“I am happy to be part of this programme, which is trying to help people like me who have been suffering,” says Rebecca Ayuba.
Rebecca, a mother of six, is just one of the thousands of people who have been helped by the COUNTDOWN programme. This major research programme, which ended in October 2021, focused on several neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that disproportionately affect some of the world’s poorest people.
The aim was to encourage people to speak out about their illnesses and how they would like to be treated, enabling researchers to investigate cost-effective, sustainable ways to control and eliminate these diseases.
The programme took an innovative approach that involved designing solutions together with, instead of on behalf of, local communities.
Shuaibu Abdulkadir, a 45-year-old farmer from Nigeria with lymphatic filariasis, says: “It is a thing of joy to be part of something that would help other people who may be suffering with skin-stigmatising diseases like me.”
Luret Lar, research manager for COUNTDOWN at Sightsavers, says: “I have really enjoyed working on this programme. It has been exciting to find out more about the needs of people with NTDs, and how we can improve the health system so they receive better care for their conditions.”
This major research programme, funded by UK aid, spanned four countries: Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, and Cameroon.
Sightsavers has carried out COUNTDOWN research in Nigeria led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, with the health ministries of Kaduna, Kwara and Ogun states.