Sightsavers’ Nigeria team has won an award for its work tackling river blindness and making strides towards eliminating the disease.
The Nigerian ministry of health presented the award to Sightsavers in December at a meeting in Abuja, in recognition of the organisation’s work to treat river blindness in Kaduna State. The disease was once rife in this part of the country, but surveys earlier this year revealed that its transmission has now been interrupted, meaning there have been no new cases found in the region, and no evidence of the parasite in the flies that spread the disease.
Nigeria has the highest burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world and represent 25% of all cases in Africa. An estimated 100 million people in the country are at risk of at least one NTD and several million are infected with more than one disease.
Kaduna was one of the most endemic areas in Nigeria. The success in tackling river blindness here shows that it can also be eliminated it in other areas.
Globally, river blindness is endemic in 37 countries, with more than 205 million people at risk of infection. Sightsavers is working with governments, communities and partner organisations to eliminate the disease in the countries where we work.
Louise Hamill, the senior NTD technical adviser for river blindness at Sightsavers, said: “We hope Kaduna is the first of many Sightsavers-supported Nigerian states to eliminate this terrible disease. This achievement was the effort of long-standing collaboration and partnership from community level and upwards, and we’d like to thank and acknowledge all those who contributed to this success.”