From left: Emmanuel Kwame lost his sight to river blindness as a young man in Ghana; a bed net keeps mosquitoes away from a mother and child in a Somalian hospital; extracting a guinea worm from an infected person.

River blindness is one of the seven neglected tropical diseases that USAID’s NTD program focuses on. Lymphatic filariasis is another. Also known as elephantiasis, it can cause horrific swelling of the legs and scrotum.

Henry says eliminating diseases like elephantiasis can’t compete in the headlines with the fight against fatal conditions. But he too is a big believer in the power of small hits: “It’s one thing to say you’re out there saving lives but it’s another thing to talk about how do you improve lives. How do you improve things to enable people to be able to make a living for themselves, for kids to be able to go to school, for people to be able to take care of their farms.”

Mass de-worming programs supported by USAID can break the transmission cycle of the parasite that causes lymphatic filariasis. And Henry notes that significant progress is being made against this disease not just in Cambodia but across the tropics.

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