Sightsavers’ work in Côte d’Ivoire focuses on treating neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness. In 2017 we distributed 3.5 million NTD treatments and trained 7,000 volunteers to give out medication.
The West African country of Côte d’Ivoire has a population of more than 22.7 million people. Neglected tropical diseases are still a major health problem in the country: it’s believed more than 17.4 million people (76 per cent of the population) are in danger of contracting lymphatic filariasis, a debilitating infection transmitted via mosquito bite. It affects the lymphatic system in later life, causing painful disability and disfigurement. People with the disease are often unable to work and children miss out on school to care for family members.
More than 2.2 million people in Côte d’Ivoire are also at risk of river blindness, a parasitic infection that can cause severe skin irritation, itching, visual impairment and irreversible blindness. It is spread by the bite of infected black flies.
To combat these diseases, Sightsavers distributes medication to treat them and stop the spread of infection. In 2017, we distributed almost 3.5 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases in Côte d’Ivoire and trained 7,497 volunteer community drug distributors, enabling them to gather data and give out medication to protect against NTDs.
Dicko has worked for Sightsavers for more than nine years. He says: “The best part of my job is giving visually impaired children access to education and ensuring future generations never go blind from trachoma and river blindness.”
The Tropical Data project is a data-collection initiative that uses smartphone technology to gather data as part of the global fight to eliminate trachoma in countries such as Côte d’Ivoire. With the evidence generated from the data, ministries of health are able to pinpoint exactly where to run trachoma treatment programmes and offer life-changing support.