World NTD Day: highlights from around the world

January 2020
A group of female and male community volunteers stand for a portrait holding dose poles.

On 30 January 2020, Sightsavers is joining celebrations around the world to mark the first-ever World NTD Day, kicking off a defining year in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Read below to find out how we are celebrating World NTD Day in the countries where we work.


Trachoma trichiasis outreach 

On 27 January, trachoma trichiasis outreach took place in Chad thanks to funding from UK aid under the Ascend programme. During this outreach, Sightsavers’ partner Organisation pour la prévention de la cécité (OPC) identified patients with advanced stages of trachoma so they could receive sight-saving surgery.

Sightsavers and OPC are also working in Chad to run assessments which look at the quality of services we provide to communities and make recommendations on where improvements could be made. To do this, we use the Quality Standards Assessment Tool.

Women gather in their village in the Guera region in southern Chad.
Women gather in their village to learn about how to prevent trachoma in their communities.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Integrated mass drug administration for four NTDs

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has one of the world’s highest burdens of NTDs but thanks to funding from UK aid, Sightsavers and its partners are continuing the fight against the diseases. In the lead-up to World NTD Day, the DRC will be carrying out a mass drug administration (MDA) to protect communities from river blindness, lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

Dr Diana Joana Kaningini, from the DRC Ministry of Health, says: “If we can eliminate disease, we can all have a better life.”

Read our story on how Dr Diana and others are working tirelessly to protect communities against NTDs in the DRC.

A doctor shows a patient who has lymphatic filariasis how to reduce swelling by putting her leg up.
Dr Diana shows a patient how to relieve the swelling of her limbs caused by lymphatic filariasis.


Surgeries for lymphatic filariasis and trachoma

Nigeria bears one of the highest burdens of NTDs in Africa. As of 2017, more than 128 million people are at risk of LF and as of 2019, more than 11 million people require treatment for blinding trachoma. But together with our partners, the fight to control and eliminate NTDs is continuing across Nigeria.

To mark World NTD Day Nigeria will be conducting straightforward, sight-saving surgeries for blinding trachoma and carrying out surgeries for hydrocele, a symptom of LF which causes painful scrotal swelling in men. Under the Ascend programme, Sightsavers aims to carry out more than 26,000 curative hydrocele surgeries in Nigeria in three years.

Nigeria and Liberia

Ongoing research to aid elimination

We are currently running more than 12 NTD research projects across the world to evaluate, inform and improve our programme startegies. In Nigeria and Liberia, research is helping us to tackle LF. The disease is spread by mosquito bite, so trapping mosquitoes and testing them is helping us to understand the prevalence of the disease and whether it is being spread in urban areas as people migrate from rural villages to towns and cities.

This research will ensure treatment is more effective and can be redirected to where it is needed most, meaning more people can be freed from the risk of this debilitating disease.

Read more about this research in our blog, Catching the mosquitoes that spread lympahatic filariasis, or visit our Research Centre.

Participants at a blood collection training session.


Trachoma mass drug administration

Kenya held an MDA to treat trachoma in Samburu and Marsabit counties.

Using the World Health Organization’s endorsed SAFE strategy, we are working to control and eliminate the spread of trachoma. The SAFE acronym describes the four methods that are used to control trachoma: Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvements. MDA contributes to the ‘A’ in SAFE, in which medication called Zithromax® is used to treat the trachoma infection and reduce the spread of the disease.

Thanks to the Accelerate programme, we aim to make progress towards trachoma elimination in Kenya by 2023.

School kids stand together for a group photo.
Students recite ways to prevent trachoma at a school in Meru, Kenya.


Mass drug administration for intestinal worms

GiveWell’s funding of deworming treatments to school children in Guinea-Bissau means the country has a huge amount to celebrate on World NTD Day. Guinea-Bissau is marking the day with an MDA to prevent intestinal worms, which cause malnutrition and increase susceptibility to disease and chronic illness. This NTD has a profound effect on the physical and cognitive development of children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Intestinal worms and schistosomiasis are often treated simultaneously. Watch our video produced by ITN Productions, which focuses on how Sightsavers and partners are protecting communities from NTDs like schistosomiasis in Guinea-Bissau.


Celebrating progress

In 2018, Sightsavers and partners announced that trachoma had been eliminated in Ghana, making it the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to do so. In Ghana, celebrations for World NTD Day focused on their success of eliminating trachoma while also highlighting the need to tackle other NTDs that still exist in the country.

On 25 January, more than 250 people took to the streets of the capital, Accra, for a Health Walk. And on the week leading up to World NTD Day, shows about NTDs were broadcast on radio and TV. All of these activities are helping to raise awareness of NTDs across the country.


Ministry of Health commemoration event

On World NTD Day, the Zambian Ministry of Health hosted a commemorative event with partners as an opportunity to highlight progress made and raise awareness of NTDs across the country.

The event will encourage the integration of NTDs with other public issues and call for an increase in domestic funding and resources for NTD programmes. Sightsavers supported The Ministry of Health with a presentation on the progress made in NTD programmes across the country. We also provided posters about the SAFE strategy that have been used in the districts where trachoma programmes have taken place.

Sightsavers' Zambia team have a stand at a World NTD Day celebration.
Sightsavers' stand at the World NTD Day commemorative event in Zambia.

United Kingdom

Sightsavers host ‘Elimination Game’ at the Science Museum

On 29 January, Sightsavers held an interactive stand at the Science Museum Lates event in London. More than 1,000 people stopped by the stand. Attendees tried their hand at our Elimination Game – a coconut shy-style game where players can physically ‘eliminate’ NTDs. Visitors were also able to take home an artistic photo of their eye taken by creative agency EYECONART.

Sightsavers is also proud to feature in the Science Museum’s new permanent exhibition, Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries in London, which showcases one of the largest medical collections in the world.

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