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Tropical Disease Institute joins Rotary to raise funds to improve water system

(ATHENS, Ohio – April 1, 2013) The Tropical Disease Institute (TDI) at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and local Rotary International clubs are joining forces to assist an Ecuadorian village build and sustain a new drinking water system.

The community of Bellamaría, located in te province of Loja, southern Ecuador, and consisting of about 40 families, had a drinking water system first installed about 15 years ago but the project stalled and was never finished, said Mario Grijalva, Ph.D., director of TDI. Grijalva and students from OU-HCOM and the Center for International Studies have worked with this the community as part of their research into Chagas Disease, in addition to providing health clinics and facilitating the socioeconomic development of local populations.

A potentially life-threatening illness caused by a protozoan parasite spread by insects, blood transfusions and congenially, Chagas disease is the focus of research by OU-HCOM and its partner, the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR) at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito. Chagas affects 11 million people, mainly in the Americas. Approximately 200,000 Ecuadorians are infected with Chagas.

In 2011, OU-HCOM conducted a clinical study of the Bellamaría community and found a high prevalence of parasites and water borne diseases, which the new drinking water system will help prevent.

The institute is joining forces with several local Rotary Clubs, including the Athens (noon and morning) and Nelsonville clubs, to raise funds for the project that will be matched not only by the international Rotary organization, but also by Rotary Clubs in Ecuador, Grijalva said.

A fundraiser will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. in Walter Rotunda Hall on the campus of Ohio University. Guest speaker will be Steve Lewine from Builders Beyond Borders, who will talk about the importance of “service beyond self,” a core principle of Rotary International, and how to combine local community service with international community service. Light appetizers will be served.

Tickets for the event are $25, and can be purchased at 332 Irvine Hall or by requesting via email and tickets will be delivered. Contact Conor Tong at or Leigh Oczkowski at to order tickets.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016