Our work in Democratic Republic of Congo

Diseases such as river blindness affect millions of people in DRC. Each year we help to distribute millions of treatments to prevent these debilitating diseases.

A close-up of a hand holding medication.

Sightsavers is working to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in Democratic Republic of  Congo (DRC).

River blindness is endemic in the country, with an estimated 50.3 million people at risk of going blind from the disease. There are also an estimated 48 million people at risk of lymphatic filariasis (LF).

Building on the work of a UK aid programme, we have helped to control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as river blindness and LF through the UK aid flagship NTD programme Ascend West and Central Africa. Sightsavers and its fellow consortium members have supported ministries to protect communities in DRC from these debilitating diseases, train health workers and distribute medication across communities to stop the spread of river blindness and LF.

The programme has helped patients to manage the symptoms of LF, including teaching them how to clean infections and showing them exercises to reduce swelling. Surgery has also been provided for male patients who have hydrocele, a symptom of LF that causes swelling of the scrotum.

At a glance

Total population
  • 84 million

  • What we focus on
  • River blindness
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • Schistosomiasis

  • Key programmes
  • Ascend
  • Tropical Data Project

  • Previous programmes
  • Reducing river blindness
  • A nurse helps wash a woman who has lymphatic filariasis wash her swollen leg.

    Our work in Democratic Republic of Congo

    The country may have a high burdens of neglected tropical diseases, but people on the ground such as Nurse Lokoto are working tirelessly to protect communities.

    Read the story

    Your donation could help to protect sight


    More from central Africa

    A schoolboy receives medication from a female teacher.

    Sightsavers’ deworming work receives extra funding to reach millions of children

    Charity evaluator GiveWell has provided a further US$7.8 million to fight intestinal worms and schistosomiasis in Nigeria and Cameroon.

    March 2022
    Two men and a woman in Cameroon. The men hold green posters saying 'Make it count'.

    Cameroon approves landmark disability legislation

    Cameroon has become the second African country to begin to ratify the African Disability Protocol, which addresses unique issues that affect people with disabilities in African countries.

    February 2022
    In Cameroon, a schoolboy in a classroom has a drink of water after taking deworming medication.
    Sightsavers from the field

    “I don’t have a tummy ache any more!”

    Hear first-hand how Sightsavers is working with GiveWell to control intestinal worms and schistosomiasis, two devastating diseases that affect thousands of children in Cameroon.

    November 2021
    A man is given the COVID-19 vaccine by a health care worker.
    Sightsavers blog

    Why Africa doesn’t need to suffer the brunt of vaccine inequality

    Africa is behind on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, yet there are programmes already in place that can help to distribute vaccines in the continent.

    Ndelle Ngabe Makoge, September 2021
    Two surgeons dressed in scrubs prepare to carry out a cataract operation on a patient.

    Life-changing cataract operations continue in Cameroon despite pandemic

    More than 6,300 people have had cataract operations in the past three years at Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute, with safety protocols enabling work to continue during the pandemic.

    June 2021
    School children in Cameroon line up to wash their hands from a large bucket.
    Sightsavers from the field

    March 2021 updates: highlights from around the world

    A campaign to protect school children from worm infections has been launched in Cameroon. Plus news from Burkina Faso, India and more.

    March 2021
    A woman records survey information on a mobile phone app while two survey participant look on.

    Photos from Sightsavers river blindness projects feature at prominent research event

    A selection of Sightsavers river blindness photographs featured as part of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) conference.

    November 2020
    Two people sit outside inputting data.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Finding nomadic communities: our research in action

    How do you provide treatment for neglected tropical diseases like river blindness when you can’t find some of the people who are most at risk?

    November 2020
    A close-up of a plastic vial containing the flies that transmit river blindness.

    Three Sightsavers nominees win IAPB awards

    The accolades, from the the International Association and Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), recognise and celebrate young and upcoming staff and volunteers within the eye health sector.

    October 2020

    We save sight in 30 countries worldwide

    Where we work