Sightsavers Reports

The father and son fighting disease in Nigeria

Jacob and Moses outside their village in Nigeria.

Meet Jacob and his son Moses, who work together as volunteers to help protect their community in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

One of their roles is distributing medication in their rural village to prevent NTDs such as river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, two debilitating diseases that can cause pain and disability.

Jacob, a father of five, has been a volunteer for more than 15 years, and says that before treatment was available, the disease had a huge impact on his community. “I remember when many people in my community went blind [from river blindness],” he explains. “Now it is different. We do not hear about people losing their vision due to the black fly.”

Jacob stands outside for a holding his colourful dose pole.
Like other volunteers, Jacob uses use a ‘dose pole’ to measure patients’ height and determine the correct dose of medication.

River blindness was once widespread throughout Kaduna State. But thanks to the UK aid-funded UNITED programme, the disease is being controlled and is moving closer to being eliminated.

When Jacob’s son Moses was growing up, Jacob used to tell him about his work as a volunteer and the diseases that were affecting their community. Moses recognised the positive impact his father was having and looked up to him, wanting to follow in his footsteps and become a volunteer once he was old enough. “I do not want my family and my people to become blind,” explains Moses.

A group of volunteers pose for a photo after a training course
Moses (bottom left) and Jacob (front row, fourth from right) are part of a team of volunteers who distribute medication in the community.

Now, Jacob and Moses work together as a team to fight NTDs: they attend training courses and refresher sessions, before going out into the field to help distribute medication, known as mass drug administration (MDA). While they are out in the community, they record the names and dosage of each and every person they reach. During a single MDA, Jacob and Moses distribute preventative treatments to up to 70 people a day.

Together, Jacob and Moses are making a positive impact on their community and the lives of the people they reach.

“I am proud that Moses is helping our community in this way: he is helping our people. I am proud of this work of father and son.”

Read more about the UNITED programme in Nigeria


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