Sightsavers Participates in the Integration of Deworming Programs into Neglected Tropical Diseases Programs

Disability like most diseases can be prevented. Sightsavers is a UK based charity organization that focuses on preventing avoidable blindness around the world. This charity organization achieves this by supporting multiple programs that help in the treatment and prevention of disease that cause blindness. Sightsavers specifically focuses on the treatment and prevention of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as the soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and schistosomiasis. In the recent years, Sightsavers have been focusing on integrating deworming programs in developing countries.


Integrated NTDs programs


Sightsavers supports various community and school-based NTDs programs in Africa. Recently, Sightsavers have added deworming components in their established NTDs programs that focus on mass drug administrations (MDAs). These deworming initiatives involve administration of deworming pills to children within regions that meet the World Health Organization’s defined policy of minimum prevalence thresholds for mass drug administration with deworming pills.


Unlike other charity organizations, Sightsavers supports both community-based and school-based mass drug administrations. In community-based scenarios, a trained community drug distributor goes from one household to another to distribute treatment for a given period of time. In school-based cases, trained teachers provide the medications to the pupils. Sightsavers take various aspects into consideration before providing support to a new deworming program. These considerations include the intensity and prevalence of STH and schistosomiasis in the selected area; the feasibility of the program in regards to Sightsavers’ resources and capacity; and the availability of funds for the proposed deworming component.


Currently, Sightsavers supports deworming programs in six African countries. This organization was started in 1950. However, it started focusing on deworming programs in 2011 through integrated NTDs programs. The main focus of this charity organization is on the diseases that are treatable through mass drug administrations such as lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, and schistosomiasis.


Elimination of trachoma


Sightsavers share some of their achievements in fighting NTDs through their Facebook page. In a video titled, ‘Before the surgery, I couldn’t walk’, Sightsavers provide a testimonial of a patient by the name Rahinatu from Ghana, who has been treated with trachoma. Before the surgery, Rahinatu couldn’t walk, do her activities of daily living, or go outside. Thanks to Sightsavers initiative, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma in June 2018.