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Measuring up to a billion treatments

Sightsavers and partners have reached a historic milestone in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Over the past year we have been counting down to our one billionth supported treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and we’re excited to announce that we’ve finally reached our target.

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, funded by UK aid.

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), and big celebrations are planned in December to mark this historic milestone.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks and month as we talk more about our billionth treatment and roll out some global celebrations, as well as finding out which well-known faces will be celebrating with us.

What are NTDs?

NTDs are a group of painful and debilitating infections that affect about one in five people across the globe – usually those in developing countries. They can cause severe and lifelong physical impairment, trapping individuals, families and communities in a cycle of poverty and social isolation.

Global efforts

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.

Our one billionth supported treatment is a recognition of that collaboration and an illustration of what can be achieved when we work together with partners across the world. The one billion NTD treatments that have been delivered to people in endemic countries across Africa have only been possible thanks to the shared mission and strong collaboration between many organisations and thousands of voluntary CDDs who have worked with us to reach this milestone.

The journey to NTD elimination

We are proud that our one billion treatments have transformed communities and changed the lives of millions of individual people. But whilst 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 sorts of things many of us take for granted, like 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.

Find out more about NTDs

Professor Stephen Hawking.
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