DONATE

Nigerian hotspot declared free from river blindness

August 2019
Children celebrate at school leading up to the one billionth NTD treatment.
Dorcas (centre), who lives in Kaduna State in Nigeria, was treated for river blindness in 2017.

River blindness has been banished from key areas of Nigeria where it was once endemic, bringing the disease one step closer to being eliminated.

Nigeria’s ministry of health has announced that more than 4.2 million people have been freed from the threat of the disease in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna states.

According to the ministry of health, surveys show that the transmission of river blindness has now been interrupted. No new cases of the disease have been found in the region, and there is now no evidence of the parasite in the black flies that spread it.

While there are still challenges to be faced before it is confirmed that the disease has been eliminated, this achievement means the infection is no longer being spread in these areas and that treatment can be stopped.

Globally, river blindness is a problem in 37 countries, with more than 205 million people at risk of infection. About a quarter of them – some 50 million people – live in Nigeria. Kaduna was one of the first areas to treat river blindness in the 1980s because it was one of the worst hit. The state previously made headlines at the end of 2017 when seven-year-old Dorcas received the billionth treatment for neglected tropical diseases, delivered by Sightsavers and its partners in Kaduna.

Sightsavers Nigeria country director Sunday Isiyaku said: “Kaduna was one of the most endemic areas in the most endemic country in the world. If we can remove river blindness here, we should be able to remove it anywhere.

“When we first started working in Kaduna there were so many people suffering. Just over 20 years later, we couldn’t find one single case. Just think if we can make that happen everywhere.”

“If we can remove river blindness here, we should be able to remove it anywhere”

Read all our latest news stories

News from Sightsavers
Kareen Atekem is shown in a yellow Sightsavers top standing outside next to a Sightsavers vehicle.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers researcher wins recognition for innovative NTD project

Kareen Atekem's work on a new project to help control and eliminate two neglected tropical diseases has been recognised by the NTD Innovation Prize competition.

September 2021
A group of smiling people hold signs that say Equal UN Mali.
sightsavers_news

Mali passes new law to protect the rights of people with disabilities

The Prime Minister of Mali has signed the new social decree into law, which promises to improve the lives of people with disabilities and make it possible for people to claim their rights.

September 2021
A hand holding a blue Novus bank card, featuring the text Visa and Novus World.
sightsavers_news

Ethical banking app Novus helps to prevent blindness

The app enables users to support Sightsavers by donating virtual ‘coins’ every time they use their bank card.

August 2021

Learn about our work to save sight