END7: Recruiting Celebrities to Combat Disease

by Mahesh Vasudevan on April 6, 2014

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AIDs, cancer, malaria, the chicken pox among others are some of the worlds most well known and thus, most countered diseases. However, there are a group of little known diseases which are ravaging one in six people in the world. These are neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs.

The End7 campaign, launched by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, is devoted to ending the seven most common neglected tropical diseases in the world: roundworm, whipworm, hookworm, snail fever, elephantiasis, blinding trachoma and river blindness. Together, these seven diseases affect one in six people throughout the world, including half a billion children. These tropical diseases are transmitted by mosquitos and worms in the soil, and generally contracted from normal everyday activities. They exist in Southern Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Africa. As common as these diseases are, they cause brutal misery with effects such as swelling, anemia, pregnancy issues and blindness. As a result children may be taken out of school, parents cannot work and it is harder for one to emerge from poverty. (Global Network of Neglected Infectious Diseases). The Global Network of Infected Tropical Diseases explains the effects that these diseases cause on people, “Imagine feeling as though you have just donated a pint or two of blood, every day for the rest of your life.  Or that you are slowly losing your eyesight because your eyelashes are curling inward and scratching your corneas with every blink. What would it feel like to go through life with limbs so swollen that you are no longer able to use them?” (Global Network Neglected Tropical Diseases). These are just some of the symptoms of NTDs. The END7 campaign uses innovative solutions to try and put an end to the spread of these diseases.

Firstly, the END7 campaign hopes to attract the attention of government leaders to make an impact. The Global Network’s major point is that the diseases will not even take a lifetime to eradicate, but a matter of years. The medicines to treat NTDs are available, but the main issue is delivering it to people who need it. END7’s primary goal is to work with policy makers to establish programs that get the medicines to the places that deserve them in a faster and efficient manner (Global Network Neglected Tropical Diseases). The most recent reports show making policy changes have been successful, with 711 million people receiving medication to be treated in 2010. “Renewed momentum has shifted the world closer to eliminating many of these conditions that take their greatest toll among the poor,” the World Health Organization declared (EurActiv). The Global Network is attacking the issue at hand and making progress.

The Global Network of Infected Tropical Diseases first hopes to spread awareness of the issue. They are taking a unique approach, recruiting celebrities to spread the word about NTDs and the mission. In February 2013, in order to spread awareness of the campaign, END7 launched a campaign “How to Shock a Celebrity,” in which several well-known celebrities haves their reactions recorded while viewing a video of NTD’s effects. These celebrities include Emily Blunt, Priyanka Chopra and Harry Potter’s own Tom Felton. The visible shock and despair in these celebrities’ faces showed how terrible these diseases are. Tom Felton was so shocked at the disease’s effects that he got up from his chair before finishing the video. Just in 2014, The Global Network recruited Indian superstar Abhishek Bachchan as the END7 campaign ambassador in India to promote the campaign in the world’s second most populated nation, where a third of the affected NTD population resides. Bachchan’s role will be to making the control of NTD’s a priority in India, encouraging the government to fight the diseases and stimulating participation from the public, Bachchan stated, As a parent, I am deeply moved by the devastating toll of NTDs on children, and I want to ensure that no Indian child has to suffer needlessly” (The Indian Express). The use of celebrities to help spread the campaign message may prove to be an effective move.

The campaign to control the neglected tropical diseases has been picking up pace. From  However, The Global Network has taken the initiative to spread the word about Neglected Tropical Diseases. Their unique methods to spread awareness and end the spread of these diseases have produced great effects, and will hopefully put an end to a terrible force.

 

Work Cited

 

EurActiv (2014). Funding for ‘neglected’ tropical diseases goes from ‘rags to riches’. Retrieved from website. http://www.euractiv.com/development-policy/neglected-tropical-diseases-rags-news-533125.

 

Global Network of Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2014. Retrieved from website. http://www.globalnetwork.org.

 

The Indian Express (2014). Abhishek Bachchan Named Ambassador For END7 Campaign.

 

American RadioWorks. (2014) History of Genetic Engineering. Retrieved from website. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/gmos_india/history.html


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