In 2017, Sightsavers’ work in Nigeria included distributing 72.5 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma, and training more than 80,000 volunteers to give out medication.
Sunday Isiyaju joined Sightsavers more than 20 years ago. He says: “I enjoy seeing the smiles of people we’ve helped and knowing that we have helped to change their lives.”
Sightsavers has been working in Nigeria for more than 60 years. In the 1950s and 60s, our work mainly focused on rehabilitation for people with visual impairments. In 1988, in partnership with the National Eye Centre, we began to support the Kaduna State Eye Care Programme and National Programme for the Prevention of Blindness, with a pilot programme to treat river blindness, one of a group of conditions known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Over the years our programmes have focused on providing eye health services to eliminate avoidable blindness, supporting inclusive education for children with visual impairments and organising social projects to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Our work in Nigeria today focuses on controlling and eliminating NTDs across 13 states. Since 2013, we’ve helped 22 states to map the prevalence of NTDs, so our programmes are accurately targeted where they’re needed most. We are on course to eliminate these diseases in the states in which we work by 2021.
In 2017 we counted down to our one billionth supported treatment for neglected tropical diseases, and in November 2017 we finally reached our target.
The billionth treatment, an antibiotic for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, was distributed to a seven-year-old girl named Dorcas, who was at risk of NTDs in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Read more about our one billionth treatment.