Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Join Effort to End Tropical Diseases

Georgetown University has joined forces with 18 other universities across the United States to participate in END7, a group that has pledged to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases by 2020.

The campaign was founded under the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute that aims to raise awareness, political will and funding to treat the one billion people affected by these debilitating diseases.

Georgetown University’s END7 chapter was founded in the spring and is currently run by co-presidents Ali Carter (COL ’15) and Collin Leibold (COL ’15).

This chapter has helped create a petition to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which was signed by over 1,100 students worldwide. Students in the College’s biology and global health major have also produced 10 education videos about NTDs and END7, bringing in over $300 in donations.

Leibold said he believes the university has maximum potential to impact the END7 campaign.

“I think Georgetown University is the perfect place to participate in the END7 campaign,” Leibold said. “This particular issue speaks to Georgetown’s international health focus, policy focus and Jesuit values. This is something we hope will be engrained in the back of students’ minds, which they carry throughout their education and careers.”

NTDs are parasitic and bacterial diseases including elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma, roundworm, whipworm and hookworm that affect the world’s poorest populations who are unable to access treatment.

END7 Resource Development Coordinator Emily Conron said that these seven diseases perpetuate the cycle of poverty, as  they often prevent those infected from completing schooling or obtaining a job. Conron founded END7 at the University of Notre Dame and is dedicated to connecting university students to eliminate NTDs.

“This international effort to control and eliminate the seven most common NTDs has the support of a diverse group of global partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), national governments, pharmaceutical companies, foundations and individuals,” Conron wrote in an email. “END7 is connecting to universities because we believe involving students in this effort is critical to ensuring its success in the long and short term.”

The Sabin Vaccine Institute has created a mass drug administration plan that includes a combination of four drugs —  Albendazole or Mebendazole, Praziquantel, Zithromax and Diethylcarbamazine citrate or Mectizan. These drugs will be administered to entire populations in communities at risk to prevent, control and ultimately eliminate the seven most common NTDs.

END7 aims to increase fundraising for the transportation and drug administration costs, which are as low as 50 cents per child for a year.

Chapter Treasurer Michael McNamara (COL ’16) said that the Jesuit ideals deem helping eradicate NTDs a worthwhile cause.

“Being at a Jesuit university, we have certain ideals: social work, social justice and helping the poor,” McNamara said. “The reason that these diseases are neglected are because these people live in these very poor rural areas — and a lot of these diseases are caused by poverty.”

This year, the chapter aims to raise both awareness and meet a fundraising goal of $1,000, which would treat 2,000 children for a year. The Georgetown chapter did not receive funding from the university for this academic year and is currently looking for ways to fund its efforts. It does not receive funding from the Student Activities Commission.

“We are now in the process of having to tweak how we do our fundraisers, because our goal is to donate 100 percent of the proceeds,” Carter said. “The biology and global health major has offered to help aid financially, but our goal is to really raise awareness and educate the student body.”

The Georgetown chapter will also be holding weekly tables in Red Square throughout the semester, which will be accepting donations and will be available for discussions about END7 and NTDs.

“Understanding this issue is a bridge to deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges of global health, and we think students’ involvement in the campaign will make them more effective advocates for all the needs facing poor and vulnerable communities around the world,” Conron wrote.

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