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A New Years Greeting from Prof. Zvi Bentwich, President and Founder of NALA

Dear NALA community and friends,

The New Year is a time for us to reflect on what we have accomplished, and look ahead to coming challenges. This has been a significant year for NALA, and for me personally. This year demonstrated the feasibility and acceptance of our longstanding vision and hopes. Since the founding of NALA I have asserted that the road to NTD eradication is dependent on active participation of the community in the process. This year the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has not only accepted our approach, but have adopted NALA's model of intervention for the national NTD control programs. In a significant scale up, NALA is now providing technical assistance to the FMoH specifically in the areas of community mobilization for behavioral change, and integration of WASH and NTD eradication. Our ongoing projects in Dembia and Adwa achieved considerable success, further validating our general comprehensive approach, and based on our strong partnerships with the JDC, OSSHD and the Gondar University of Environmental Health that have made this possible. Whereas previous campaigns were limited to tackling STH and schistosomiasis, NALA is now taking part in national plans for control of other major NTDs, including eradication programs in disease hotspots with the support of Merck. The collaboration with Sightsavers focused our efforts on Trachoma, an NTD endemic in most areas of Ethiopia and the leading infectious cause of blindness. NALA is lucky to collaborate with many partners, but one outstanding partner is the Pears Foundation, that provides consistent support. Looking ahead it now seems possible that control and even eradication of NTDs in Ethiopia and eventually in other countries will be achieved, and that NALA will be playing an important role in this effort. One of the most enticing targets will be the complete eradication of Trachoma from Ethiopia. It is my own personal dream that this become the next target for our efforts. This would be in conjunction with our current activities directed towards other NTDs. These developments would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership and commitment of the NALA team headed by Michal Bruck, and the successful recruitment and absorption of both Israeli and Ethiopian individuals. As in any human endeavor, the key to success lies in people, and it is clear that we have been both successful and fortunate to have such a wonderful and dedicated team and volunteers to have made these achievements possible. Lastly on a personal note, the journey has been long, but I am thrilled and extremely gratified to see that what I envisioned at the start is being implemented and that I am surrounded by such wonderful people who have stepped up to carry on what I had started.

Thus, it remains to me to wish all of you and your families a healthy and fruitful new year.

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