River blindness is endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with an estimated 50.3 million people at risk from the parasite. There is also an estimated 48 million people at risk of lymphatic filariasis (LF).
Building on the work of a UK aid programme that was working to reduce river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, we are helping to eliminate and control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as river blindness and LF through the UK aid flagship NTD programme, Ascend West and Central Africa. As a consortium, Sightsavers, along with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), Mott Macdonald, and the SCI Foundation, is supporting ministries to protect communities in DRC from these debilitating diseases with the three-year programme.
The Ascend West and Central Africa programme aims to train health workers and support mass drug administration across communities to stop the spread of river blindness and LF. The programme will provide patient care support for managing systems of LF, including teaching patients how to clean infections, and exercises to reduce swelling. Surgeries will also be provided for male patients who have hydrocele, a symptom of LF that causes swelling of the scrotum.