Mission Possible

Visualizing a subject that too many turn away from: an interactive exploration of the fight to eradicate 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A close up of a proportional area chart used in the Mission Possible project. It shows several columns of different coloured bubbles. The axis labels are beyond the bounds of the image, showing just colourful dots at different scales.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have health, social and economic consequences for more than one billion people around the world. Yet many people don’t even know what they are.

With an eye-opening interactive for their website, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wanted to educate their readers about the fight to eradicate 10 NTDs and bring attention to a subject too many turn away from.

Grimly, the impact of NTDs isn’t always as simple as lost lives. So we opted for another metric – Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). Every year, just 10 NTDs steal 20 million years of healthy human life, despite being easy to prevent.

We introduced each of these diseases right at the start, helping readers get familiar with each one. And we incorporated distinct visual references for each disease that we could use as a visual key throughout the rest of the story.

Photography lent further impact to this piece, driving home just how devastating these diseases can be.

From start to finish, readers experience this story as a set of horizontally scrolling slides, with a progress bar to help them navigate. The final piece is a self-guided tour of a health threat that's too important to keep ignoring.

Ten illustrations of neglected tropical diseases in two rows of five. The top row is titled 'Diseases we're trying to control by 2020.' The second row is titled 'Diseases we're trying to eliminate by 2020.''
A proportional area chart of neglected tropical diseases and the number of healthy days of life they've taken in different global regions. The cursor has stopped on Elephantitis in South Asia which reveals 1,604,442 healthy days of life have been lost.
A grid of squares where each square represents 500,000 treated for Neglected Tropical Diseases. In total they represent 979 million people who recieved treatment for at least one of the NTDs in 2015.
A circular graphic containing three silhouettes of people. Below them is the text '$1 = 3 people protected' from the most common NTDs.
A proportional area chart showing cases of Guinea worm in different years. It shows we're close to eradicating Guinea worm with only 22 cases in 2015 compared to 3.5 million cases in the mid 1980s.
An animated graphic with the text 'we're fighting neglected tropical diseases with the biggest drug donation program the world has ever seen. 979 people were treated in 2015.' Below the 979 million figure are 31 dots that fill in yellow within a second, represening 31 people treated per second.
An animated graphic with a circle that toggles in scale. Above the circle are two dates, 2000 and 2015. When the 2000 is highlighted the circle swells to 75,223 cases. When 2015 is highlighted, it shrinks to just 22 cases.

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