Eye care workers in Benin have been travelling more than 3km on foot to reach a remote village to provide treatment for river blindness.
The village of Wo-Togoudo is located 140km from Cotonou, the nearest city, and is so remote that the only way to access it is by crossing a long wooden bridge. This means teams must undertake a gruelling trek to treat what they call ‘the disease at the end of the road’.
Once they arrive, they can examine villagers’ eyes for signs of river blindness, and provide medication to treat and prevent the disease. It demonstrates how Sightsavers’ staff are willing to go the extra mile to save the sight of people in remote communities. More from Benin
The secretary for a national disability group has joined Sightsavers’ volunteer programme to help us distribute medication to prevent neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness.
Uertar Collins Tarzoor, from Makurdi in Benue state, decided to volunteer so he could help members of the group receive treatment. He was given training and equipment, including a treatment register and a dose pole, and three weeks later he began distributing medication to people with disabilities in Makurdi.
Collins uses a tricycle to get around, and said he wanted to raise awareness that people with disabilities can fulfil valuable roles within the community. He said that because of his leadership position within the disability group, the members listened carefully when he explained the benefits of the programme and were willing to take the tablets. “A lot of people will sometimes wake me up very early just for me to give them the drugs,” he explained.
Thanks to Collins, the neglected tropical diseases programme in Benue state is reaching out to people with disabilities who may otherwise miss out on treatment. More from Nigeria
An eye care camp took place in early July in Nacala Porto and Velha, with the aim of operating on 100 cataract patients.
The camp was part of Sightsavers’ CATCH programme, which ensures that patients who visit trachoma screening camps with another eye condition, such as cataracts, are given the treatment they need.
Scroll through the gallery above to see photos from the camp and meet some of the patients we helped to treat. More from Mozambique
During a recent mass drug administration campaign in the Pobe region of southern Benin, Sightsavers met two long-standing volunteers who have been helping to distribute medication for many years.
Honvenou Pélagie, aged 44, has been volunteering for nearly 13 years, while her colleague Edoune Charline, aged 50, has been working for nearly 12 years.
In this region, three-quarters of community volunteers are women: this ensures they can more easily visit houses to treat women and children, while men are often not admitted because of local customs. During their door-to-door visits, they provide medication and raise awareness about diseases and how to prevent them.
“We do this work because we have been chosen by the community and we exercise it proudly,” they told us. “We want to see our community free of neglected tropical diseases one day and we thank the donors who allow us to treat people for free.” More from Benin
Ahead of the Global Disability Summit, which took place in London at the end of July, a workshop was held in Pakistan to discuss how people with disabilities can be included in the country’s development plans.
Organisers created a video to showcase highlights from the event, which focused on tackling discrimination, inclusive education, economic empowerment and harnessing technology. Watch the video below. More from Pakistan