Dubai Cares, the UAE-based philanthropic organization working towards tackling poverty through education in developing countries, today launched a new program in Namibia. Aimed at keeping school children healthy through combatting Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), the program focuses on deworming activities designed to improve children’s health and reduce school absenteeism.
Working with the END Fund as the implementing partner, a private philanthropic initiative whose aim is to control and eliminate NTDs, Dubai Cares launched this program to treat at least 410,000 school-aged children aged 5 to 15 for Schistosomiasis (SCH) and intestinal worms. In addition, the program will treat a further 240,000 children aged between 1 and 5 for intestinal worms, through both school and community-based treatments. In its second year, the program is set to achieve 100% coverage of educational institutions across Namibia – reaching 1,497 schools at primary level in all 13 regions across the country.
NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that affect over 1.5 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 800 million children.
Commenting on the organization’s new program in Namibia, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “Namibia is a resourceful and talent-rich country that is developing at a fast-rate. However, factors such as poor nutrition and severe affliction of NTDs have resulted in serious challenges to the development of many children and their communities. These parasitic diseases have contributed to high-level of infant, child and maternal malnutrition, including iron and iodine deficiencies, which in turn impact children’s learning capabilities. Through our partnership with the END Fund, we will be supporting an integrated, evidence-based initiative that will provide a solution to this rampant and debilitating issue. On its successful completion, the program will be seamlessly transferred to the Government of Namibia to own and continue.”
“We have valued our partnership with Dubai Cares in Angola and Liberia, and we are delighted with this commitment to provide NTD treatment to over 650,000 children in Namibia over the next five years,” said Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund.
Complementing the work of the Namibian Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), an existing school health and nutrition program in Namibia, the Dubai Cares program will also introduce other key interventions such as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Dubai Cares’ program launch in Namibia is in line with the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which created a global alliance led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with 13 leading pharmaceutical companies, global health organizations, private foundations and donors, and governments pledging support to reduce the global burden of NTDs. Targeting 10 diseases, the partnership has ramped up efforts over the past two years to reach the goals of the World Health Organization (WHO) - the United Nations public health arm - to control or eliminate these diseases by the end of this decade. As a continuum to the London Declaration, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosted an event in Paris during March 2014 titled “Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress”, which Dubai Cares attended to announce its partnership with this global alliance of international institutions that seek to mobilize the fight against NTDs. One of Dubai Cares strategic approaches to improve student enrollment and learning outcomes is through an integrated school health and nutrition model that is made up of NTD control, school feeding, WASH (Water Sanitation & Hygiene) in schools.
“We are proud that Dubai Cares recognizes the importance of combating NTDs with the aim of increasing children’s access to quality education,” said Bill Campbell, Board Chair of the END Fund. “This type of insight is profoundly important and we are honored to be in partnership with them.”
At present, there are 57 million primary-aged children out of school while another 250 million children are attending school but not learning. Dubai Cares’ mission to increase children’s access to quality primary education is realized through integrated programs that eliminate the underlying obstacles that prevent children from going to school and learn. This is achieved through school-based deworming activities, building and renovating schools and classrooms, improving water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, providing school feeding, early childhood education, as well as teacher training, curriculum development, literacy and numeracy.