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Somerset Balloonist Back in Skies to Fight Disease

A decade after taking part in the first non-stop balloon flight around the world, Briton Brian Jones is making a humanitarian world tour to help fight the bacterial disease noma. Jones and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard founded the Winds of Hope charity with the prize money they won on their record-setting trip around the world, and now Jones will be touring in a replica balloon to meet with VIPs to raise awareness of noma and the charity. "We committed ourselves to the struggle to eradicate noma through prevention and early detection programs," says Jones. "It remains our ambition to see the end of this scourge within our lifetimes. We are active in six countries in Africa—Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Togo and Senegal." Among the planned stops are Thailand and Japan, and he is hoping to go to China and Russia as well. "This year Bertrand will be visiting our activity centers to assess the results of our field actions and I will be touring the English-speaking countries within Africa where noma has been reported to assess the needs and discuss how Winds of Hope can help," Jones says. "The first country in which we set up the prevention program was Niger in 2000 Since then this country has seen an apparent decline of approximately 90 per cent through training 2,300 health workers in prevention, early detection and treatment."

April 16, 2009

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