UNITED in Nigeria

The UNITED project, funded by UK aid, has delivered 116 million treatments in Nigeria to tackle neglected tropical diseases.

Gabriel, a community-directed distributor in Nigeria, distributes medication to combat neglected tropical diseases.

Nigeria carries 25 per cent of Africa’s burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), making it one of the most endemic countries in the world for these debilitating diseases.

To help tackle this issue, UK aid is funding the UNITED project: between 2013 and 2017 it has delivered 116 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases in Nigeria. The project aims to strengthen Nigeria’s health system to help the country manage NTDs sustainably in the long-term. It also seeks to streamline drug supply chains to ensure that at-risk communities in Nigeria are getting the support they need.

Community distributor Aliyu gives NTD medication to a young boy in Nigeria.

How does the project work?

Sightsavers leads the UNITED consortium, which has so far reached 26 million people who live in five states of northern Nigeria: Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara. The project targets blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness and three types of intestinal worms (hookworm, whipworm and roundworm).

These NTDs are treated with drugs that are distributed by a vast network of community volunteers, also known as community-directed distributors or CDDs. Many CDDs have first-hand experience of how these diseases affect lives, having seen a family member or a neighbour infected.

A group of female community-directed distributors in Nigeria, who distribute medication among their communities to treat neglected tropical diseases.

Which organisations are involved?

The project is the result of collaboration between the Nigerian government, Sightsavers and non-governmental development organisations CBM, HKI and MITOSATH. Several private-sector providers are also involved (Health Partners International, Crown Agents and Accenture Development Partners), as well as academic institutions (Schistosomiasis Initiative of Imperial College, and The Filariasis Support Programme of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine).

The Department for International Development (DFID) awarded the UNITED programme an A+ rating, which means that it is exceeding targets.

Want to learn about our work on NTDs?

Neglected tropical diseases

More about Nigeria

7 year old Dorcas is standing outside, smiling. She is the one billionth treatment beneficiary.
News / NTDs /

Sightsavers and partners celebrate delivering a billion NTD treatments

The billionth treatment was administered on Thursday 16 November to a seven-year-old girl named Dorcas, who was at risk of NTDs in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

A girl in Senegal is measured with a dose pole to find out how much medication she needs to take, as part of a mass drug administration campaign to prevent the spread of trachoma.

WHO announces progress on trachoma elimination

In 2016, 85 million people were treated with an antibiotic to protect against trachoma, according to new data from the World Health Organization.

An ophthalmic surgeon carries out an eye examination on a man at an eye clinic in The Gambia.

Sightsavers honoured by West African health ministries

Sightsavers has received an award from the West African Health Organisation for its work to improve health centres and train eye health workers.