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NTD Awareness Week

Eileen Lynch | Tuesday, November 9, 2010

By now, a few of you might have seen me shoving a pamphlet in your face this morning outside of DeBart, shouting about NTDs and promising you a free silly band. Sorry that we were so annoying, but this week is NTD Awareness Week, and it’s my mission to get everyone on campus interested in a bunch of diseases that no one really knows about. So here goes.

NTD stands for Neglected Tropical Diseases, a series of seven disfiguring and potentially deadly parasitic illnesses that affect 1.4 billion people around the globe. That’s more than malaria and AIDS combined, a number that could fill the Notre Dame stadium 17,822 times.

These diseases are a big deal. So why hasn’t anyone heard of them? Put simply, they lack the drama of malaria and the death sentence of AIDS. NTDs kill slowly and indirectly. When a person contracts an NTD they contract a lifetime of drawn out suffering, of chronic malnutrition, asthma, pneumonia, cancer, blindness and disability. Some NTDs cause itching so intense it drives people mad, drives them to suicide. With others, such as Elephantiasis, tiny worms pool in the lymph nodes, swelling limbs and, in males, the scrotum, to impossible sizes. Some of the parasites burrow into lung tissue or the intestines, robbing victims of the breath and sustenance and leading, in the long term, to cancer and other equally horrific deaths.

Sorry to gross you out, but here’s the kicker: all seven NTDs can be prevented, treated or cured for just 50 cents per person per year. It’s trite, but 50 cents really can save a life. The medications to treat these diseases have already been developed and donated by major medical suppliers. The cures are free; we just need to get the medicine where it needs to go. To me, that’s the grossest injustice. People desperately need the medication, and we don’t have the funds to get it to them.

During NTD Awareness Week there will be various events around campus to raise money and simply inform people. Today from 7 to 10, Five Guys will donate 10 percent of all proceeds to ND Fighting NTDs. Thursday, come to LaFortune and support us by buying a dirt cup (use your flex points!) and Friday ND Fighting NTDs is hosting a free concert and petition signing on South Quad in front of Dillon Hall from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

I know most of you are just as broke and stressed out as me, but small efforts can make such a huge difference in this campaign. Stop by LaFortune on your way to the library Thursday. Sign a petition for our politicians before dinner on Friday or visit our website (http://www.nd.edu/~ndfntds/) for more information. Our top priority is to inform people right now, because to solve a problem we’ve got to know about the problem.

Take the first step — help end the neglect.


Eileen Lynch


Ryan Hall

Nov. 9