Combating NTDs in Nigeria

Sightsavers has been awarded our first major grant from the United States. We received $275,000 from the Izumi Foundation to tackle two neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria. Over the next three years, their support will enable us to protect 2.5 million people per year from onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF) in three Nigerian states.

Why neglected?

Termed “neglected” because they affect the poorest, most marginalized and least visible populations (often living in remote rural areas, conflict zones or urban slums) these diseases are generally missed out when health agendas and budgets are set. In fact they aren’t even mentioned in the Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets agreed by world leaders to make a difference to the poorest and most under-developed countries by 2015.

One sixth of the world’s population is infected with one or more NTDs and another two billion people are at risk. As well as thriving in conditions caused by poverty, NTDs also make it extremely difficult to escape from it, so it is a vicious cycle.

River blindness and LF are two major NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa. Sightsavers has been working to tackle river blindness in Africa for more than 20 years and currently protects over 22 million people a year: more than any other non-government organization worldwide.

NTDs in Nigeria

In Nigeria, 27 million people need protecting against river blindness, more than any other country in the world. An estimated 22 million people are also infected with LF there. With support from the Izumi Foundation, Sightsavers will work to reduce the burden of river blindness and LF in the Nigerian states of Kebbi, Kogi and Kwara. Over the next three years, we will integrate the distribution of Mectizan© and albendazole, the drugs used to combat the two diseases, into the existing health system. This will result in 2.5 million people being protected per year from each of the diseases.

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