In 2016, Sightsavers distributed more than 6.2 million treatments in Mali to stop the spread of neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness, and trained 8,000 local volunteers to give out the medication.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a public health problem in Mali, with an estimated five million people requiring preventative medicine for river blindness and more than 15 million people needing medication for lymphatic filariasis.
Sightsavers is working to tackle NTDs by helping to distribute Mectizan® treatment, which can prevent river blindness and lymphatic filariasis spreading. We also distribute medication to treat and prevent trachoma to ensure the country eliminates the disease as a cause of blindness by 2018.
Sightsavers is working to reduce blindness in Mali by training eye specialists and health workers, and recruiting community volunteers to distribute medication. We educate communities about good hygiene, carry out surgery for patients suffering from cataracts and trachoma, and screen people for refractive error.
Sightsavers’ social inclusion work in Mali aims to improve the living conditions of those who are visually impaired, enabling them to participate in their community. We support inclusive primary and secondary schools for visually impaired children, train teachers in inclusive education, provide eye health consultations and monitor the progress of each child that is enrolled. It’s hoped that this model can be replicated across the country.
Elie has worked for Sightsavers for more than 23 years. He says: “It’s a pleasure to help children with visual impairments go to school.”
Mobile phones are vital as part of Sightsavers’ efforts to tackle avoidable blindness in Mali. Mobile surgeon Boubacar Fomba travels to some of the most remote regions in the country to perform surgery in the field, and his mobile phone helps him to collect important data to keep track of patients. Read Boubacar’s story.