Sightsavers director of neglected tropical diseases Simon Bush has received a lifetime achievement award for his work to fight river blindness.
River blindness is a parasitic infection that causes severe skin irritation and irreversible blindness. Sightsavers is working to eliminate the disease in the countries where we work by 2025.
Simon was presented with the award by the United Front Against Riverblindness (UFAR), a non-profit organisation based in the US. He is the second person to receive the accolade, which was first presented last year to Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr William Campbell.
Simon said: “Sightsavers has worked very closely with UFAR for the past 10 years. We value this partnership, which has allowed us to play a role in programmes to eliminate river blindness in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We’re making good progress in the DRC and elsewhere, but more than 205 million people around the world are still at risk of being infected with this painful and debilitating disease. We now need the global community to commit further funding and resources, in order to support countries to reach the last mile and eliminate river blindness as a public health problem.”
Simon has also been named president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH). He joined the board as a trustee in 2014 and began his new role at the RSTMH’s annual meeting in mid-October, where he spoke about the role of non-governmental organisations in neglected tropical disease programmes.
He said: “Becoming the president of the RSTMH is a great honour. The society will soon start a new strategic plan that has been based on a period of success and growth. Over and above joining up its core activities, it’s important that we focus on financial management and sustainability as we continue to operate in very challenging times.”
Sightsavers has partnered with the Fred Hollows Foundation and PlenOptika to pilot a new vision care strategy that aims to revolutionise eye care worldwide.
Sightsavers began working in Kenya in 1952, when blindness affected up to 7% of rural Kenyans.
Sightsavers has been awarded $16.9 million to continue and expand its deworming work, after a funding recommendation from US charity evaluator GiveWell.
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