submitted by Deborah Kidd
12/15/2014 at 16:35

The author’s own newborn. “Umm… now what do we do?”

Someone in my family is brand new. As this blog posts, I’m freshly arrived in Atlanta to lend an extra set of hands to my sister, her husband, and their newborn daughter.

As I prepared to impart experienced advice (while humbly admitting I will never really have this parenting thing figured out), I got to thinking about the whirlwind first weeks of DefeatDD, our baby in many ways. At times it felt like ushering our online movement into the virtual world paralleled those overwhelming early days of parenthood. And much of the advice carries over quite appropriately:

1.       You have no idea how much you don’t know.

Preparation, while important, was just one step on our early path. Just as children grow and end up teaching their parents as much about the world as we try to teach them, we’ve found that online advocacy still teaches us something new each day. Case in point: Sometimes an irreverent online campaign trumps a press release in getting the attention of a high-profile journalist. 

Further we found that, to help navigate this learning curve…


2.       Community is key.
Even in the ever-evolving world of online advocacy, chances are someone has already run into the challenges you’ll face. Much with new parents, who can’t imagine that anyone has ever been so tired, that a laundry pile has ever been so tall, or yes, that a tiny human can poop so very much. But countless others have been there before, and they can be your rock. That’s why…


3.       When others offer help, TAKE IT!

Tapping into existing networks, joining tweet chats, calling for users’ advice on how better to structure our website – all of these invaluable gifts have helped DefeatDD amplify our messages while giving us the opportunity to reciprocate and build stronger relationships. This reciprocation is your secret weapon in the first weeks of parenthood, too: When a neighbor asks if she can bring by a casserole or help scale that mountain of laundry, sure she wants to help. But she really wants to see that sweet new baby. Chances are, you’ll end up with fresh, folded burp cloths and she’ll float away on snuggly newborn vibes thinking you are the one who did her a favor! 

Community is key in raising a collective voice to defeat diarrheal disease.
By helping each other, we help advance our shared cause.


4.       There’s no turning back.

Just as the birth of a human sets you up to parent in some way/shape/form for the rest of your own life, so does the birth of a movement. The progress achieved thus far takes vigilance: Diarrheal diseases can’t be eradicated, but their devastating toll can one day be eliminated. We must continue our conversations, keep raising our voices, advance research, and share evidence of success in order to stimulate and sustain a lasting impact. Which means that…


5.       There will always be more to do.

My list as a mother never achieves all its checkmarks. There are always more carpets to vacuum, more veggies to steam. And as an advocate, there will always be a new audience who needs to hear your message. The key to containing our task-list is prioritization. And through our work with DefeatDD, we have prioritized you!



Thank you for all of your support throughout DefeatDD’s lifetime. Here’s to 5, 10… countless years more!


Other posts in DefeatDD's fifth birthday series:

-- 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 yeras 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 Elayna Salak
12/11/2014 at 14:04

I joined the poo crew five short months ago, and I should have known immediately that these ladies love to talk about poop! My first clue should have been the picture of urinals on the calendar that hung in my cube. Instead, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s kind of odd,” and proceeded to send pictures of my new desk to friends and family. Responses I got back were in the form of a surprised question: “Are those toilets on your wall?”

Yes, they were. It was a perfect conversation starter, and that was the point. I will be the first to tell you that I don’t like poop. Everybody does it, few people talk about it, and that was fine by me. What I have since realized is that in order to create change, people need to talk about the issue, in this case diarrheal disease.

What I love about DefeatDD is the way they present information about diarrheal disease. They add in the human component and bring the statistics to life through powerful stories, like the series “Together against diarrhea.” The DefeatDD team also incorporates humor by creating funny videos like No bleep, producing toilet themed calendars, and sponsoring poo haiku contests, all aimed to get people talking about the issue. Their approach not only delivers the key facts, but gets people excited about spreading the word. It is creative, engaging, and informative—and it has broken my taboo on poo.

Today I still don’t like poop, but for different reasons: because diarrheal disease is one of the leading killers of kids under five years old, because it is preventable and treatable, and because nobody should have to endure an experience like Jane’s, a mother who tragically lost three children to diarrhea. As DefeatDD turns five years old this year, I can’t help but wonder what they will come up with in the next five years, and how many people they will inspire to join the conversation on diarrheal disease, like they did with me. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my toilet calendar to hang proudly and prominently at my desk, all the while better equipped to answer those questions as to why toilets are on my wall.

-- Elayna Salak is a Program Assistant for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH. 


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.

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

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

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submitted by Lauren Newhouse
12/09/2014 at 11:33

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 11:53

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 11:31

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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