In this series, we’re profiling real-life superheroes who are fighting to end preventable diseases. Each one has an alter-ego from our quiz, “Which Lifesaving Superhero Are You?” Take the quiz to find out which hero you are.
Meet Dr. Eliud Wandwalo, AKA Captain Cash! Backed with funding, he’s able to support technical innovations and programs to put an end to preventable diseases.
Of the 10 million people who fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) every year, only about six million are identified. These missed diagnoses create a chain of transmission: someone with TB who is not diagnosed for a year can infect between 15 and 20 people.
Dr. Eliud Wanerdwalo, senior disease coordinator at the Global Fund, is working to find the “missing” four million patients.
About 75% of the undiagnosed TB patients are in 13 countries — Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine, Kenya, Mozambique and India.
The Global Fund has directed an additional $125 million to these countries in an effort to find the missing millions. Some of this funding is building up data systems and improving analysis to better understand how the disease is affecting different regions. Other funding is going towards better diagnostic tools and digital technologies that connect patients with health workers.
The Global Fund also works with partners including WHO, Stop TB Partnership, and private sector partners to ensure these countries have the tools and technical assistance needed to diagnose and treat TB.
“Such collaboration is vital. We cannot stop TB simply from a medical perspective. We can only do it by partnering with different stakeholders,” says Dr. Wandwalo.
For example, unregulated private clinics in Asia are not compelled to register TB patients in the same way as public hospitals. As a result, it can be difficult to collect data on TB cases in those areas. But “by working closely with the private sector, we are better able to identify those who have been diagnosed with TB at private facilities,” Dr. Wandwalo explains.
In addition to better capturing and sharing data, Dr. Wandwalo uses the funding to help build capacity in data analysis to better understand who is coming in for treatment, where the epidemics are located, and why people may not be seeking treatment.
The Global Fund’s work also supports countries in using digital technology, including mobile phones to communicate with patients, which can save patients from needing to visit a health facility every day to take their medication.
“They can take it at home and post a video so that health workers know they’ve had it. That kind of innovation really helps move the needle.”
Are you super inspired by this hero? Click here to learn about four other awe-inspiring people who are fighting against preventable disease.