River blindness continues to affect many people in Republic of South Sudan. In 2016 we helped to distribute almost 200,000 treatments to prevent the spread of this neglected tropical disease.
Sightsavers started working in South Sudan in 2009 and established a country office in the capital, Juba, in January 2012. Several neglected tropical diseases are prevalent in the country: river blindness is endemic and more than 7.3 million people require preventative medicine to protect them against the disease. Trachoma is also suspected to be endemic in 32 districts.
We are helping the country’s ministry of health to distribute ivermectin medication, which eliminates the infection and stops river blindness from spreading. In 2016, we distributed more than 195,000 treatments for the disease and trained more than 1,400 volunteer distributors, who are based within communities and deliver medication to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas.
We also help to treat patients with advanced trachoma, usually through surgery, and distribute antibiotic treatments to protect entire communities against the disease.
As part of a push to improve local healthcare, Sightsavers trains ophthalmic clinical officers, ophthalmologists, cataract surgeons, trachoma surgeons, drug distributors and health promoters. We have also helped to renovate an eye unit at Malakal Teaching Hospital.
Anthony Wani started working for Sightsavers in January 2012. He says: “Supporting people living with disabilities and advocating for their rights brings me joy. I’m proud to be part of the Sightsavers family.”