Sightsavers’ work in Togo focuses on preventing river blindness. In 2017, we helped to distribute more than 2.5 million treatments for the disease in Togo, and trained 11,800 volunteers to give out the medication.
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.”
Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Located on the west coast, the narrow strip of land has a population of approximately 7.9 million.
River blindness is endemic in the tropical country, with an estimated 4.7 million people requiring preventative treatment. This parasitic infection is spread by the bite of infected flies, and can cause severe skin irritation, itching and, over time, irreversible blindness.
Sightsavers is working with the ministry of health in Togo to control the disease and aims to reduce its impact by helping to improve the local healthcare system. We are training community distributors to administer Ivermectin tablets, which can prevent the disease spreading, to whole communities.
Sightsavers is also running education programmes in the country to raise awareness about the importance of eye health, and is carrying out surveys to track the spread of the disease.
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 Togo. 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.