Sightsavers delivers one-billionth treatment to fight neglected tropical diseases!

16 Nov 2017
Darca with her Grandfather, Simon

The International Coalition for Trachoma Control congratulates Sightsavers and its partners today as they celebrate the distribution of one billion treatments in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The milestone billionth treatment was administered to Dorcas, a seven year-old girl from Kudaru, a community in Kaduna State, Nigeria, to treat onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis. NTDs have had a significant impact on Dorcas's family and community. Most notably, her grandfather Simon, who received a treatment at the same time today, was made blind from onchocerciasis decades before. Today's treatment, which is part of a mass drug administration targeting thousands of communities similar to Kudaru, will help to prevent the morbidity caused by these diseases, safeguard people from new infections, and ensure that these diseases are not passed down to further generations.

Our collaboration with communities, ministries of health in endemic countries, donors, other NGOs and academic institutions shows that these diseases can be prevented, treated and, ultimately, eliminated.

Despite recent efforts to control and eliminate NTDs, these diseases still affect more than one billion people living in the poorest and most marginalized communities, costing developing countries billions of dollars every year. Communities living in areas without access to formal health services or with poor access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation are most affected.   

"The scale-up of interventions to fight NTDs is having a significant impact on millions of the world's most vulnerable people", said ICTC Chair Serge Resnikoff. "We congratulate Sightsavers and all those involved in the distribution of these treatments, which will help to reduce disability and poverty."

Simon Bush, Director of NTDs, Sightsavers, said: “Our collaboration with communities, ministries of health in endemic countries, donors, other NGOs and academic institutions shows that these diseases can be prevented, treated and, ultimately, eliminated."

"We need to continue to work in partnership to strengthen healthcare systems from the inside and ensure support is given to the people who need it - together, we want to tackle the problems at the root of NTDs, which are the sorts of things many of us take for granted, like access to clean water, sanitation facilities and education”, he added. 

Sightsavers, a founding member of ICTC, works with around 300 partners to support NTD programmes in 29 countries, treating five diseases: trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, intestinal worms and schistosomiasis.

Sightsavers is the Grant Manager for ICTC’s two major partnership initiatives, the DFID SAFE Program and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative. In 2016, these programs contributed to a record-breaking 85 million people receiving drugs to treat trachoma infection and 260,000 sight-saving surgeries to treat trichiasis, the late blinding stage of trachoma. The programs have also increased access to water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) services, contributing to the elimination of a number of NTDs.

ICTC congratulates Sightsavers on this remarkable achievement and thanks them for their commitment to partnership and collaboration in the fight against NTDs.