The Ascend West and Central Africa programme, which launched in 2019, closed on 31 August 2021.
The UK government’s unexpected decision to cut foreign aid means the programme ended eight months sooner than planned, which could have a devastating impact on the people it promised to support.
The cuts mean that more than 100 million people who would normally be reached by this programme could be affected. There are more than 76 million treatments at risk of not reaching those who need them, hundreds of thousands of people will no longer be identified for life-changing surgery, and training and in-country capacity building has come to a halt.
The programme also aimed to help several countries reach elimination thresholds and contribute to a major leap forward in global elimination efforts, but now these targets are at risk. It takes a huge number of people, organisations and processes to support governments to eliminate an NTD. If any one part of this complex interaction fails, individuals, families and communities feel the harsh impact.
However, all is not lost. Funders are stepping up to potentially support some of this work. But the job is far from over.
Every person has a part to play in eliminating these diseases, and to make certain we don’t let them become ‘neglected’ once again. Together we can enhance the health, quality of life and future wellbeing of people affected by these conditions. Now it’s time to #PlayYourPart.
The UK’s foreign aid budget is being cut by £4 billion, which includes ending funding for neglected tropical disease programmes such as Ascend.Read the story
Vital funding from governments and other institutions will ensure we can continue our fight to eliminate debilitating neglected tropical diseases.
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Every gift you give helps change lives for people in some of the world’s poorest countries. With your help, we can continue to treat and prevent devastating diseases such as trachoma.
As shocked and saddened as we are at the UK government’s decision, we’re also incredibly proud of how this outstanding programme directly supported governments to improve the health and prospects of millions of people.
In our video below, meet Abdul, David, Pelagie and others who worked on this programme as they reflect on their proudest moments.
In just two years, the Ascend West and Central Africa programme has supported ministries of health in 12 countries.
The Ascend consortium was made up of four leading development organisations: Sightsavers, Mott MacDonald, the SCI Foundation and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Sightsavers and partners supported ministries of health in 12 countries under the programme: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Work was also planned in Chad but unfortunately didn’t start before the programme closed early.
Discover how the Ascend West and Central Africa programme and its partners supported ministries to respond to COVID-19 and see some of the amazing artwork and videos created.Read on Storymaps
Mr Alabi, the neglected tropical disease (NTD) coordinator for Kogi State, Nigeria, and his team provide NTD interventions to more than four million people annually.
In the first year of the programme, the Ascend West and Central Africa partners have supported health workers and volunteers to deliver mass treatment campaigns that will help tackle high rates of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Liberia.
Alhaji Sani Muhammad Dan'lya is the acting chairman of Sokoto State's chapter of the Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities. He helps to highlight the importance of disability inclusion within the Ascend West and Central Africa programme.