Sightsavers is one of the collaborating partners in the COUNTDOWN research project that is based in the African countries of Liberia, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria. The COUNTDOWN project is working diligently to find solutions for 7 of the most common tropical diseases by 2020. While these diseases are curable, they are neglected in the countries in which the research is taking place in.
In Nigeria, Sightsavers recently worked with local officials and partners to distribute a large amount of medication to treat these neglected tropical diseases in the country. With the help of the local communities, Sightsavers was able to make a large impact by preventing and treating the illnesses that can eventually lead to blindness. The COUNTDOWN program is gathering information and the communities in order to figure out the best ways to make changes and implement them in areas where people are suffering from these illnesses.
Sightsavers with the help of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is creating a database of community landmarks and other places that people congregate from the locals in the affected communities themselves. By gathering this information, researchers are able to map out important places that can be used to distribute medication and preventative supplies in order to create the most change.
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In addition, Sightsavers and COUNTDOWN are educating these communities about the future efforts that will be made to help with these neglected tropical diseases. The goal is to ensure that as many people as possible will participate in the program. There is a wide variety of researchers from different areas of discipline that are working to help the different marginalized groups and stakeholders of the COUNTDOWN project.
Sightsavers understands that many of the people who are most affected by these neglected tropical diseases usually don’t have much input when it comes to the decisions that will be made. The efforts that are being made will constantly be changing in the years to come as more information is gathered and the needs of these communities change. Participation is exceptionally important to ensure that Sightsavers and the rest of the team at COUNTDOWN can create Sustainable Development Goals.