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The Power of Working Together! Maximizing Benefits by Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases with other Programs

  • Sandra Laney, Aryc Mosher, May 2, 2014

Imagine your doorbell ringing on a Monday morning. It's Sally, a woman handing out a free cleaning product for your kitchen floor. She helps you understanding that the product will make your life easier. So you take the product and use it to scrub your kitchen floor and it works great! On Tuesday, Bob comes knocking. He's also handing out free cleaning products, but these are for different surfaces. You take his product and put it next to Sally's. The next day, another visitor and another product and so goes the rest of the week. In the end, you have so many cleaning products that you don't remember which one did what or why you needed it in the first place.

This story may sound silly, but it's similar to the experience that communities face with the arrival of various community-based services. As in the example above, governments, NGOs and implementing partners have designed valuable programs that can address the health, social, economic and nutritional needs of individuals, families and communities as a whole. And the delivery of services are not always well-explained or coordinated. This can result in a loss of time, effort and resources by all involved as communities are requested to repeatedly be made available for yet another "community wide" activity.

In this Round 13 Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) call, we're challenging you for ideas to achieve maximum benefit from current interventions for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by combining with programs in other global health and development sectors.

The NTD community has developed a workable platform that engages many facets of a community through the efforts of mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns. During MDA, organizers enter communities within endemic regions of a county to treat for one or a variety of NTDs (i.e., lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis, and soil transmitted helminthes). These campaigns draw out nearly every member of the community to participate. Capitalizing on these efforts could reduce the amount of time communities are required to take away from other more personally motivating tasks and could maximize the efficiency of delivery of services.

We're seeking new ideas that can take advantage of the NTD MDA platform that results in the coordination of multiple disease-specific NTD MDAs into fewer or better performing MDAs or for the platform to be used to facilitate the outreach and access to other health and development sectors with the end goal of increasing participation in all efforts while reducing fatigue and confusion in the community. To be sustainable, we understand that these solutions must benefit both the MDA platform, and also the other integrating health or development program. In other words, successful ideas would be those that show potential to both increase the number of individuals receiving the drugs during the MDA campaign as well as increase the participation with the added program. Cost reduction or time savings for both newly integrated activities is also a good measure of success and can serve to act as a measure of how to ensure integration is sustainable and effective over the long term.

We hope this call for proposals will start some great conversations and stimulate some great new ideas from those in the NTD community and from those outside, who understand their own sector and the specific challenges faced in reaching the communities we both seek to serve. We look forward to working together to generate and sustain efficiencies in our delivery systems to understand, fight and prevent neglected tropical diseases and to deliver life enhancing interventions and development solutions to those most in need!

Apply now: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/about.

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