One of the unfortunate outcomes of the diseases is that people are forced to move away from fertile river valleys, where these NTDs are prevalent, which means they struggle to find suitable areas to grow crops or farm. This pushes families and communities into poverty, which is both a cause and consequence of the poor health caused by the conditions.
While river blindness is transmitted by the black fly and LF is transmitted by the mosquito, both are caused by an infection of the filarial worm that can be treated with the same medication – Mectizan®. By adding albendazole, a common de-worming medication, in areas where LF is present, both diseases could be successfully treated together, efficiently and cost-effectively.
Sightsavers worked in collaboration with a network of partners to reach men, women and children at risk of these two diseases, and followed the World Health Organization’s recommended coordination of river blindness and LF treatment.
By helping to eliminate these debilitating diseases, the programme aimed to develop healthy communities where children no longer struggle with the health risks posed by NTDs that were faced by their parents and grandparents.
After seeing many people lose their sight to river blindness, Okello Charles volunteered to help eliminate the flies that spread the disease.Read Okello’s story
There are many important insights from our programme that will be used in new NTD initiatives. What’s more, the health systems that the programme helped to improve will ensure that countries can continue to tackle these debilitating diseases in the future.
While significant progress has been made and we are proud of what this programme has achieved, there are still considerable challenges that must be faced to control and eliminate NTDs. More funding, collaboration and support is needed to achieve this important goal. Together we can enhance the health, quality of life and future wellbeing of people affected by NTDs.