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Under the Big Tree, book launch…to help eradicate neglected tropical diseases in Zimbabwe

Ellen Agler, public health leader and CEO of the END Fund follow proceedings.

THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Higherlife Foundation, and the END Fund recently launched a road map for the elimination neglected tropical diseases in Zimbabwe.

The book: Under the Big Tree, Extraordinary Stories from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), written by Ellen Agler, public health leader, CEO of the END Fund tell the moving stories of those struggling with these diseases and the life-saving work that can be and has been done to combat NTDs.

They introduce readers to people from all walks of life from car-washers in Lake Victoria and surgeons on motorbikes to under-resourced local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and big pharma scientists, as they chronicle what has been called the largest public health programme in the world.

Collaborative partnerships, such as the one with Higherlife Foundation, the END Fund, and Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care, have made incredible progress in the fight to end NTDs. The expansion of such partnerships is needed to continue progress and see an end to the suffering caused by NTDs.

Many synergies exist between NTDs and the cholera elimination plan currently underway in Zimbabwe, particularly the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives in curbing these diseases. Eliminating NTDs and cholera will be critical milestones to Zimbabwe achieving Vision 2030.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic and disabling parasitic and bacterial infections which cause long-term suffering for over 1,5 billion people (the “bottom billion”) who live on less than US$1,25 a day worldwide.

In children, NTD infection leads to malnutrition, cognitive impairment, stunted growth, and the inability to attend school. In adults, the ill effects of these diseases lead to social stigma, low self-esteem, a loss of productivity, and anemia.

Ending the five most prevalent NTDs is achievable in our lifetime. Treatments are available, generously donated by the pharmaceutical industry.