Celebrities from around the world have called on their fans and followers to join the END7 campaign, a global effort to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.
Music, entertainment and fashion stars, including Katy Perry, Slash, Ewan McGregor, Stella McCartney, Tom Felton, Alyssa Milano, Danny DeVito, Amos Lee, Norah Jones, MC Hammer, Aaron Neville, The Kooks, Rosanne Cash and many others reached out to their Twitter and Facebook fans to help END7 raise awareness about these devastating diseases of poverty that infect one in six people worldwide, including 500 million children.
“Join us in ending 7 diseases by 2020! Follow @END_7 today and find out how to make it all possible!” tweeted pop singer Katy Perry (@katyperry) to her 24 million followers.
“My fans mean the world to me. Today you meant the world to millions of kids suffering with NTDs,” tweeted British actor and a star of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise, Tom Felton (@tomfelton).
“Thousands of you have joined me to help #End7 preventable diseases today. You inspire me!” Felton also posted.
Yesterday’s social media push reached more than 50 million people through Twitter and Facebook, and put the END7 campaign on the map for millions who had never heard about NTDs.
“This week marks a turning point for the END7 campaign, as millions of people are learning just how easy it can be to eliminate or control a group of diseases that plague the world’s poorest people,” said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We are incredibly grateful for all of the new support we have seen over the past week and hope that it continues to inspire others to join our cause.”
It costs just 50 cents to treat and protect one person for an entire year against all seven of the most common NTDs. Pills to treat these diseases are donated by pharmaceutical companies and many programs use existing infrastructure, such as schools and community centers, to administer the treatments, making NTD treatment one of most cost-effective public health initiatives available today.
“See how you can help stop 7 different kinds of diseases with a donation as small as 50 cents,” posted Stella McCartney (@stellamccartney), fashion designer and daughter of Beatles member, Sir Paul McCartney.
NTDs cause blindness, massive swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition and anemia. These diseases prevent children from growing and learning. They reduce adults’ economic productivity and ability to care for their families, keeping communities trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease.
The END7 campaign, launched earlier this year by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, aims to raise the public awareness and funding required to cover the cost of distributing medicine and setting up treatment programs for NTDs. It is the first global public awareness campaign dedicated to NTD treatment and elimination and relies heavily on compelling visual content disseminated through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread its message.