The billionth treatment was an integrated antibiotic treatment for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. It was distributed to a seven-year-old girl named Dorcas, who was at risk of NTDs in a community in Kaduna State, Nigeria as part of UNITED, one of our flagship programmes.
This fantastic achievement has only been possible thanks to the support of our committed funders, partners and a network of local volunteers, known as community directed distributors (CDDs).
During December 2017, global celebrations took place in Nigeria, the UK and Ireland to mark this historic milestone.
In 2012, the World Health Organisation set out a roadmap that aimed to speed up efforts to overcome the global impact of NTDs. It was hoped that combining the efforts of governments, NGOs, communities and international organisations would bring us a step closer to ending the misery caused by these diseases.
No single person or organisation can eliminate NTDs. Fast-forward just five years from 2012 and the scale of what has been achieved is almost unparalleled: the global effort to control and eliminate NTDs is one of the largest public health initiatives ever seen. Our one billionth milestone is a recognition of that collaboration, and illustrates what can be achieved when we work together with partners across the world.
We are proud that our one billion treatments have transformed communities and changed the lives of millions of people. But while vital progress is being made to control and eliminate NTDs, we need to continue our work and consign these painful diseases to the history books.
To do this, Sightsavers and partners urgently need the support of donors and endemic-country governments to commit to additional funding and support to help eliminate NTDs for good.
We need to continue to work in partnership to strengthen healthcare systems from the inside and ensure support is given to the people who need it. Together, we want to tackle the problems at the root of NTDs – the things many of us take for granted, such as access to clean water, sanitation facilities and education.
We each have a part to play in helping to eliminate painful and poverty-trapping NTDs. Together we can enhance the health, quality of life and future wellbeing of millions of people.