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Delivering critical NTD treatments in Africa

June 06, 2014

END in AfricaSince October 2010, FHI 360’s END in Africa project has delivered about 217 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to almost 95 million people in five African countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo. The project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is working to control and eliminate five NTDs (lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthes and trachoma).

NTDs are a diverse group of diseases that affect one-sixth of the world’s population, including an estimated 800 million children. These diseases can kill and frequently impair, blind or disfigure. They can result in equally devastating economic consequences for communities due to lost productivity and income.

Controlling and eliminating NTDs involves giving all affected communities periodic treatment with preventive medicines for a number of years, which varies according to the disease. Through END in Africa, USAID and FHI 360 support national ministries of health and education in effectively targeting and delivering drug treatments to thousands of communities in need. After years of delivering successful treatments, almost 8.3 million people in END in Africa countries are no longer at risk of acquiring lymphatic filariasis, and more than 14.9 million people live in areas where active trachoma is no longer a public health problem.

Since 2012, END in Africa has supported 354 assessments to monitor declining NTD levels in its focus countries. The information gleaned from these assessments made it possible to stop mass treatments for lymphatic filariasis in 50 districts and district-level mass treatments for trachoma in 66 districts in END in Africa countries.

It takes a huge network of health workers and community volunteers to reach the vast number of people in need of treatments. In the past four years, the END in Africa project has supported the training of 307,193 people to safely deliver NTD drugs. About 94 percent of these individuals are volunteer community drug distributors and schoolteachers. The hundreds of thousands of health workers and community volunteers who lend their skills, hands and hearts to treatment efforts are crucial to the success of NTD control programs both in END in Africa countries and around the world. 
USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease Program recently launched One Billion and Counting, a campaign celebrating the delivery of one billion NTD treatments to 465 million people in 25 countries around the world. Watch this video to hear Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health, talk about the campaign. Additionally, hear how USAID's Neglected Tropical Diseases Program is making a difference in Ghana by watching these videos.