DONATE

Our work in Democratic Republic of Congo

Diseases such as river blindness affect millions of people in DRC. In 2019 we helped to distribute more than 3.7 million treatments to prevent these debilitating diseases.

A close-up of a hand holding medication.

Sightsavers is working to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in DRC.

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.

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 boy and his father amid a fast-flowing river, where the black flies that carry the river blindness parasite like to breed.

    Your donation could help to protect sight

    DONATE

    More from central Africa

    Two surgeons dressed in scrubs prepare to carry out a cataract operation on a patient.
    sightsavers_news

    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.
    sightsavers_news

    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.
    sightsavers_news

    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
    A boy using a phone with his father sitting behind.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Programme staff explain how we’re supporting children's learning during lockdown

    Sightsavers staff provide a first-hand insight into the five ways we’re making sure children with disabilities aren’t left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    July 2020
    A man walks behind his cattle on a dirt road
    Sightsavers blog

    Why innovation is urgently needed to reach nomadic communities during COVID-19

    Kareen Atekem reflects on the challenges and opportunities in reaching Cameroon’s nomadic populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Kareen Atekem, July 2020
    Participants at a blood collection training session.
    Sightsavers blog

    Making research count: introducing the new uptake and learning team

    Sightsavers’ new research uptake and learning advisors share their efforts to make sure our research makes a real difference to the lives of people across the world.

    Sightsavers, February 2020
    A group of female and male community volunteers stand for a portrait holding dose poles.
    Sightsavers from the field

    World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day: highlights from around the world

    On 30 January, Sightsavers joined in celebrations for the first ever World NTD Day around the world.

    January 2020

    We save sight in 30 countries worldwide

    Where we work