Thanks to support from UK aid, partners and an integrated approach, the programme has protected 26 million Nigerians from multiple diseases.
From the start, UNITED focused on sustainability. The programme worked with the state and national ministries of health to improve health systems by training surgeons and healthcare staff, providing equipment, helping to gather data, developing ways to monitor health, streamlining drug supply chains and raising awareness about the causes and treatments of NTDs.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project.
Sightsavers led the UNITED consortium: together with partners, it helped to reach communities at risk of NTDs in five states of northern Nigeria: Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara. The project’s integrated approach meant it could target blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness and three types of intestinal worms (hookworm, whipworm and roundworm).
These NTDs were treated with drugs distributed by a vast network of community volunteers, also known as community-directed distributors or CDDs. Many CDDs have first-hand experience of how these diseases affect lives, having seen a family member or a neighbour affected.
The Department for International Development (DFID) awarded the UNITED programme an A+ rating, meaning it exceeded its targets.
There is a lot of important knowledge from the UNITED programme that will be used in new NTD initiatives. What’s more, the health systems that the programme helped to improve will ensure that Nigeria can continue to tackle these debilitating diseases in the future.
However, despite the success of the programme and its legacy, Nigeria still carries around 25 per cent of Africa’s NTD burden, and the global mission to eliminate NTDs has not yet been achieved. More funding, collaboration and support is needed to rid Nigeria of NTDs. Together we can enhance the health, quality of life and future wellbeing of people affected by these painful, poverty-trapping conditions.
Which organisations were involved?
The programme was carried out in collaboration with the Federal and State Ministries of Health in Nigeria by a consortium led by Sightsavers, with Accenture, Crown Agents, Helen Keller International, CBM/HANDS, MITOSATH and DAI.