It took just one class for David Obadina to realize his passion.
The Northeastern student’s desire to take an epidemiology class taught by Richard Wamai, an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies, developed into a determination to help eradicate neglected tropical diseases worldwide.
“While taking that class I became even more interested in global and public health particularly the area concerning neglected tropical diseases or NTDs,” said Obadina, SSH’17.
The third-year international affairs major will now continue that mission as a member of the 2015–16 END7 student advisory board, which will structure and implement student engagement for the global END7 campaign. He is one of only nine students elected to sit on this year’s student advisory board, which comprises representatives from universities across the globe.
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Sabin Vaccine Institute launched the END7 campaign with the goal of eradicating seven neglected tropical diseases by 2020. According the END7 website, neglected tropical diseases are the most common diseases among the world’s poor population, affecting more than 500 million children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
“These diseases are extremely prevalent in low and middle income countries,” Obadina explained. “They keep people from working, from going to school, they can lead to malnutrition, and they have a detrimental affect on maternal and child health.”
As a member of the advisory board, Obadina will contribute to the main objectives of END7, which include fundraising, advocacy and educating the public.
“The student leaders on this board will be able to give their ideas directly to the organization,” Obadina said. “They will be the link between the organization and student groups.”
Fundraising, he noted, is an important part of the END7 mission. While the treatments are free, transporting the treatments to patients is not. END7 student groups on college campuses raised about $43,000 in 2014, according to Obadina, who sits on the executive board of the Northeastern UniversityEND7 student organization.
Fourth year psychology major Nina Granow, was selected to be part of END7’s Student Leadership Council, a larger group of student leaders from around the world. She also serves on Northeastern group’s END7 executive board.
Continuing his passion on co-op
After taking Wamai’s class, Obadina worked on co-op in Kumasi, Ghana, at the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, where he saw firsthand the impacts of the diseases he learned about in the class. As a research assistant, Obadina helped collect and analyze blood samples from people with neglected tropical diseases, specifically lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, in order to determine which drugs best attack the parasites.
Obadina is currently on co-op at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, working with the African region team on several projects to improve healthcare across the continent. And he will continue to raise awareness both on campus and abroad about neglected tropical diseases.
“We are hoping we can have a wider influence now,” he said. “There are so many aspects of these diseases that are affecting everyday life for people across the globe. Ending any of these diseases will be a step forward in lifting people out of poverty.”