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submitted by Lauren Newhouse
12/09/2014 at 10:33

The DefeatDD team meets baby Cody!

Five years ago, PATH launched as part of a strategy to unite the global health community and talk frankly about ways to curb childhood diarrheal deaths. That same year, I started a job at PATH as a global health communicator for our pneumonia vaccine program. When I accepted the job, I knew that I would be living and breathing (pun intended) the fight against pneumonia. What I didn’t know was that, in the coming years, my job would turn to sh&*^&t…

…the fight against it that is.

In those early days, I considered myself to be a bit of a lone wolf. I was the only communicator focusing on pneumonia. All of my other communications colleagues worked on diarrhea, a disease I thought to be completely unrelated to pneumonia. Inherently, the two diseases were different in terms of symptoms and transmission—one attacked the respiratory system and one attacked the gut. But, they were also different in terms of how the global health community was addressing them. Back then, advocacy and health care strategies for these diseases were largely siloed into separate camps. Naturally, I followed suit at work, content to remain only mildly aware of what the ‘poo crew’ was doing as I concentrated on my own work.

Flashing forward five years, the world looks completely different. The global health community has embraced pneumonia and diarrhea as actually having quite a bit in common. Aside from being two of the top infectious killers of children in the world (particularly in the developing world), control strategies for these diseases also share a number of common and complementary interventions like proper nutrition, vaccinations, antibiotics, hand-washing with soap, low-emission cookstoves, oxygen treatments, and exclusive breastfeeding for newborns. Leveraging these solutions to combat pneumonia and diarrhea simultaneously has now been adopted as a critical strategy for enabling health care resources to stretch farther and maximize lives saved.

Goofing off in India with Sushmita Malaviya.

As the global pneumonia and diarrhea strategies changed over the years, my work life changed as well. The diarrhea communicators that I previously watched at a distance soon became an integral part of my everyday life as we merged pneumonia and diarrhea advocacy and communications activities toward a common cause—child survival.  Soon, I went from being a passing visitor on to being a frequent contributor as the website broadened its scope and became a go-to resource for the integrated diarrhea and pneumonia fight.

This year, as both and I celebrate our five-year anniversaries, I can’t help but reflect on a journey that has not only brought two disease fights into alliance, but made me a member of a team of crackshot (or maybe crackpot) communicators that operates like a close-knit family. No longer the lone wolf, I’ve found newfound inspiration in my new role as the team member who gets to tell people why they should give a crap about pneumonia.



Other posts in our DefeatDD fifth birthday celebration series:

 -- What it means to be five. Allison's son, Nate, also turns five years old this year, and he taught his mom some important things about this big milestone.

-- Take this job – and LOVE it. Learn why our DefeatDD Director says she has the greatest job in the world.

-- DefeatDD is five years old! And we wouldn't be here without you! 

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submitted by Eileen Quinn
12/04/2014 at 10:53

I wish I could remember what the five-year old me told my parents I wanted to be when I grew up. I am pretty sure I didn’t say I wanted a job about diarrhea. And yet…

I’ve heard many celebrities say they have the greatest job in the world – acting in a movie, playing a sport, being a musician on tour. The common thread seems to be that they can’t believe they are paid to do what they love.

Fair enough, but they’ve got nothing on my job.

Because here’s the straight poop – I have the greatest job in the world.

Every day I come to work with a group of smart, smart-ass, creative, and passionate people who are relentless in their drive to improve the health of the world’s most vulnerable children. Our DefeatDD team is part of the larger Vaccine Development Program at PATH. I admire and appreciate the work of all my PATH colleagues, but I adore the DefeatDD team.

While a blog is too short to enumerate all the great work they do, I want to share a few of my favorites:

·         Giving the data their due, as in the media release package for the ROTAVAC clinical trial results and this blog about why health economics matters.

·         Giving voice to the families and communities we serve, as in this blog about the clinic in Zambia and the stories in this wonderful interactive feature.

·         Getting past the poo taboo with the Poo Haiku, the toilet calendars, the cocktail party slated as “Get the Scoop on Poop,” the No Bleep video.

·         Empowering our allies across the world to advocate for better protection for children, as when we helped push out the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD)and compiled advocacy resources for the “movement.”

·         Finding powerful ways to share the successes and the stories, through videos, social media, and nurturing coalitions.


It is truly a joy to work with this team and to contribute to this cause. It’s been five years of hard work, creative collaboration, and more fun than I thought possible in a desk job. 


-- Eileen Quinn is Communications Director for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH. 


Other posts in our DefeatDD fifth birthday celebration series:

-- What it means to be five by Allison Clfford. Her son, Nate, also turns five years old this year, and he taught his mom some important things about this big milestone.

-- DefeatDD is five years old! And we wouldn't be here without you! 

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submitted by Allison Clifford
12/02/2014 at 10:31

This month, my son Nate will turn five years old – the same age as DefeatDD. It’s hard for me to believe that so much time has passed since he was born, but he likes to remind me almost daily that his birthday is coming up soon. In his world, turning five means getting ready to start “real school” and going to kindergarten, having a big birthday party with all of his friends, and getting lots of presents. Turning five means transitioning from being a little kid to joining the ranks of big kids. Nate also tells me that he can watch “Star Wars” once he’s five.

Reaching five years old is a big milestone for many kids and their parents in all parts of the world, though the reasons can often vary quite a bit. Through my work at PATH and DefeatDD, I’ve learned that five years is that critical turning point where kids have a better chance at not getting sick with deadly diseases, like diarrhea and pneumonia. Children are also at greater risk of dying before the age of five if they are born in low-resource countries, especially in rural areas and poor households.

More than half of under-five child deaths are due to diseases that are preventable and treatable through the use of simple, affordable interventions. Using an integrated approach to tackle these killers head-on with an array of interventions – including breastfeeding, improved nutrition, oral rehydration therapy, zinc treatment, vaccines, clean water, improved sanitation, and appropriate use of antibiotics – can make all the difference in saving children’s lives.

It’s not surprising that there are so many great initiatives and campaigns focused on this pivotal point in a child’s life. USAID’s 5th Birthday and Beyond campaign and World Vision’s Survive to Five initiative come to mind first, but I know that there are many others. I also love this Lifebuoy soap commercial from India – it has such an uplifting message about the importance of turning five!

Even though I know that Nate was lucky enough to not be faced with these incredible health challenges during his first five years, I will still breathe a sigh of relief to know that he has reached that milestone as a strong, healthy, and thriving little (now big) boy. And, maybe I’ll even let him watch “Star Wars.”

-- Allison Cifford is a Communications Officer for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH and a proud member of the DefeatDD team

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submitted by DefeatDD
12/01/2014 at 11:05

At DefeatDD, our vision is a world where no child dies from a preventable disease like diarrhea, and every child gets a chance to celebrate a fifth birthday. We use the fifth birthday as our goal because when a child reaches the age of five, they’ve surpassed the period of highest risk of dying from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.

At some point this year during all this talk about fifth birthdays, it hit us: DefeatDD turned five years old in 2014! From fragile beginnings to a strong initiative nurtured by partners, colleagues, and advocates, we have a lot to be thankful for as we celebrate our fifth year. Every fifth birthday a child celebrates because of access to simple interventions is like a birthday gift to us, too. 

We don’t like to toot our own horn very often, but before we flip our toilet-shaped calendars to 2015, each of us on the DefeatDD team are taking some time to pause and reflect on what DefeatDD’s fifth birthday means to us. Follow our blog throughout the month of December, join the #DefeatDD Twitter conversation, and check back here tomorrow for our first post by Allison Clifford.

In the meantime, just for kicks, check out our fifth birthday photos


Other posts in the DefeatDD fifth birthday series: 

--Five years, five wishes: Hope, a founding member of the DefeatDD team, remembers the team’s many wishes for the initiative and recounts how five in particular have come true.  

-- How DefeatDD broke my poo taboo: "Are those toilets on your office wall? DefeatDD newcomer Elayna had explaining to do to friends and family.

-- From pneumonia to poo-monia: Lauren remembers when her job turned to shit... the fight against it, that is. Pneumonia and diarrhea advocacy may not be such an unlikely alliance after all.

-- Take this job -- and LOVE it: Why DefeatDD's director says she has the greatest job in the world. 

-- What it means to be five: Allison's son, Nate, also turns five years old this year, and he taught his mom some important things about this big milestone. 


Photo credit: SEPpics

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11/18/2014 at 12:05

Students learn healthy habits and help maintain school toilets in the GIZ Regional Fit for School Programme.Photographed by Ivan Sarenas, GIZ, in Cambodia.

Back by poo-pular demand, we are thrilled to present DefeatDD’s 2015 toilet calendar, “Oh, the places we go: Public health’s humble hero.”

As we learned last year, nothing breaks the loo taboo like a toilet-shaped calendar. We kept the basic structure that you know and love, but there are three new aspects to our 2015 re-doo that we’re particularly excited to share:

- In this year’s calendar, we’ve sprinkled additional advocacy resources throughout the year via QR codes (simply download a QR code reader app to scan and share the resources on your phone). These digital tools can empower you to spread awareness about child health issues with friends, family, and colleagues who won’t necessarily be stopping by your cubicle to admire the calendar.


Munni Jatav’s toilet brings her security and peace of mind: “I was always having to pay attention before and was always scared of being attacked. When there is no electricity it was especially bad, but now we have privacy and are no longer scared.” Photographed by Marco Betti, WaterAid, in Gwalior, Golpahaba Slum, Madhya Pradesh, India.


- In the end, it’s not just about toilets really. It’s about health, safety, women’s empowerment, and so much more. We advocate for toilets because they improve people’s lives. So we’re happy that many of this year’s photos feature people who represent our motivation behind the DefeatDD movement: a reminder throughout the year of why we do what we do.  


Inspired by community-led total sanitation activities, villagers constructed this low-cost latrine using natural materials: bamboo stems and leaves. Photographed by Kyaw Kyaw Soe, International Rescue Committee-Myanmar, in Nga Wa Village, Paletwa Township, Myanmar.


- The sanitation crisis can seem overwhelming, but after looking through the incredible geographic diversityof these photos, it’s impossible not to feel inspired. Each new month is a story of seemingly insurmountable odds. We learned that the village in the photo above can only be reached by boat followed by a three to four day walk. Sanitation and hygiene education have reached some remarkably remote places, hinting that with perseverance, universal access to sanitation is indeed possible.


Each toilet in this calendar started with an advocate. We need your voice to help ensure that this good work will continue, because too many people are still waiting for a proper place to “go.” So hang your calendar proudly in your cubicle (or bathroom), share our Facebook gallery of featured photos, and talk sh*t with your friends and family.  Help fill every corner of the world with toilets! 

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