It started with a call early on Monday from Uniting to Combat NTDs: they were in a bit of a pickle.
UTC had originally wanted to invite three community medicine distributors form around Africa to speak at a conference in London. However getting visas in such a short space of time ruled this out.
So Uniting to Combat commissioned us to capture these stories of local leadership across Africa. Wrangling with customs officers, visas and long car journeys, we filmed over 10 days to the remotest regions to hear these people’s stories.
Thus began our relationship with Uniting to Combat NTDs – one that has continued to this day.
Sightsavers had originally wanted to invite three community medicine distributors form around Africa to speak at the launch of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Declaration, at the Natural History Museum in London. With the WHO and Gates Foundation amongst the delegates they wanted to communicate the success stories on the ground. However getting visas in such a short space of time ruled this out.
Wrangling with customs officers, visas and hugely long car journeys we filmed over 10 days in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, where we travelled to the remotest regions to hear these people’s stories.
Hosted by Sightsavers and attended by over 200 people from across the pharma, donor and NGO sectors incl. the Gates Foundation and World Health Organisation, the film was used to launch a discussion on the importance of attaining the WHO 2020 goals for neglected tropical diseases.
One in seven of the world’s population suffer from neglected tropical diseases. That’s more than the population of Europe. And yet, through large-scale drug programmes in some of the poorest regions on the planet, nearly one billion people are now safer from these diseases than they were half a decade ago.
This film celebrates the 5th anniversary of a groundbreaking international coalition: Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases. Its aim is hugely ambitious yet highly focused: to control, eradicate or eliminate ten debilitating and potentially fatal tropical diseases by 2020. Here, we document some of the incredible progress so far.
The six-minute introductory film was shown to over 800 senior government officials and world health delegates at the World Health Organisation in Geneva in April 2017. Post event a revised version was created for distribution on social media. In total, we delivered 15 films to help share the positive impacts of this life-changing programme to a wider audience.
In the developing world, the impact of Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is still being felt. For many with this debilitating condition, the social stigma (sometimes self-imposed) can lead to social exclusion and even estrangement from family.
In Ghana, Kofi Nyarko is a man on a mission. As someone who has had Hansen’s disease himself, he now dedicates his life to reuniting other sufferers with their families – some of whom haven’t seen their family in decades. In this moving film, Kofi shares his message of hope. Today, Hansen’s disease can easily be treated with a simple drug. But the social stigma is more difficult to overcome. We travel with him on two momentous days, as James and Ekua are reunited with their families after more than 30 years apart.
This film was commissioned by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) to give a human face to Hansen’s disease.
“It’s just been shown to 16 ministers of health from West Africa and the President of Ghana at the President’s Council for Health which I was chairing in Accra… They applauded the film and the President of Ghana, John Mahama, lept up and hugged me saying “this is what communities in Africa are all about” – he nearly knocked me off the stage”