Sightsavers has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the IZUMI Foundation for its work in Liberia to help eliminate two blinding and disabling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.
The IZUMI Foundation-funded program will protect more than 3 million people in Liberia from river blindness and more than 2.5 million people from lymphatic filariasis, preventing the suffering and sight loss of millions of people.
Liberia, one of the world’s poorest countries, was recovering from 14 years of civil conflict when in March 2014 it suffered a serious outbreak of Ebola. After the temporary closure of Sightsavers’ programs in 2014/15 because of the outbreak, mass drug distribution activities for NTDs restarted in late 2015 in partnership with the government.
Liberia is now at a vital point in its journey to eliminate NTDs. Support from the IZUMI Foundation will enable Sightsavers to maintain momentum in the fight to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in Liberia, by 2025 and 2019 respectively, through:
- Training local volunteers to distribute and administer drug treatments, enabling an extremely cost-effective and sustainable approach.
- Developing the skills of health workers in Liberia to increase the country’s human resource capacity in the long term.
- Entomological surveys and data collection, which will enable the spread of the diseases to be assessed and treatment to be accurately targeted, which is essential in the fight to eliminate NTDs.
- Building community awareness and ownership via radio announcements and meetings with community leaders, to ensure a high take-up of treatments.
Sightsavers is at a historic turning point in the fight against NTDs. Preventing NTDs is one of the key factors in ending extreme poverty and suffering in Africa, and the IZUMI Foundation’s ongoing support has enabled the organization to make huge progress towards eliminating these diseases.
Adoley Sonii, Sightsavers’ Liberia Country Director, said: “The support of the IZUMI Foundation will have a huge impact on the lives of millions of people in Liberia. It will prevent blinding, disabling and painful parasitic diseases that can undermine the prosperity of hundreds of communities and affect the health and cognitive abilities of generations of children.”
IZUMI Foundation Program Director Gretchen Stoddard added: “IZUMI Foundation is very pleased to continue supporting Sightsavers’ NTD programs to prevent needless suffering. The river blindness and lymphatic filariasis elimination goals in Liberia are ambitious and timely. We look forward to Sightsavers’ dedicated efforts toward achieving these life-changing goals.”