Sightsavers Announces New Tools Launched to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases

February 07, 2014

New tools launched to combat neglected tropical diseases

For immediate release: Thursday 6 February 2014

Funding from Sightsavers’ Innovation Fund has seen the successful development of resources to help combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The fund was launched in 2012 to enable organisations to explore new and creative approaches to tackling the barriers affecting the areas of eye health, inclusive education and social inclusion.

"Over one billion people are at risk of infection with NTDs and many of these diseases are entirely preventable with improved WASH."

A collaboration between Children Without Worms, the International Trachoma Initiative,Emory University’s Center for Global Safe WaterCAREWaterAid and WASH Advocatesdeveloped one of the projects which has benefitted from the funding.

Having identified the need to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as WASH) factors that contribute to the transmission of NTDs, a new set of tools has been developed to promote increased collaboration.

Kerry Gallo, Children Without Worms' Senior Program Associate, said: “Over one billion people are at risk of infection with NTDs and many of these diseases are entirely preventable with improved WASH. Collaboration between the WASH and NTD sectors is essential to achieve our common goal of improving health and development for the world’s poorest communities.”

WASH and the Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Manual for WASH Implementers is intended to serve as a practical guide for those working to implement, support, and sustain WASH interventions at country level.

Country-specific manuals, which will be available in early 2014, will enable WASH implementers to easily access the most relevant information about the NTDs endemic in their countries of practice, including NTD prevalence maps compiled from the Global Atlas of Helminth Infections and the Global Atlas of Trachoma. This information will help WASH organisations to identify where their programme areas overlap with areas affected by NTDs, and target their interventions to have even greater impact on these diseases.

An e-course and website will also allow increased coordination and information exchange between the WASH and NTD sectors.

This has been recognised as essential to achieving the elimination of the blinding disease trachoma and the control and prevention of other WASH-related NTDs, including soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and guinea worm disease. 

This creation of resources that are targeted specifically towards the WASH sector is an innovative approach to scaling up NTD control.

The resources will equip WASH-implementing organisations with the knowledge they need to target their interventions to NTD-endemic communities; to engage in and promote collaborative monitoring for NTD-specific health outcomes; and to communicate the impact of WASH on NTDs for the purposes of advocacy and policy change.

Dominic Haslam, Sightsavers' Director of Policy and Programme Strategy, said: “The success of this project shows the importance of strategic funding provided by the UK’s coalition government.

Investigating new methods and practices is essential to improving the quality of Sightsavers’ work and that of the sector in finding solutions to development problems.”

Through this support to practitioners and organisations in the WASH sector, families in NTD endemic areas will benefit from a reduced risk of infection with trachoma and other WASH-related NTDs due to more effectively targeted interventions.

Dominic Haslam added: “This project will be incredibly useful to the NTD control community as we scale up NTD programmes, including the UK aid funded Integrated NTD programme in Nigeria led by Sightsavers.”

The funding is part of a five-year Programme Partnership Arrangement that Sightsavers holds with the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

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For further press information, case studies, or to interview Dominic Haslam, please contact Sophie McCallum, Senior Media & PR Officer, on 01444 446637

Notes to Editors

About Sightsavers:

  1. Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities.
  2. There are 39 million blind people in the world; 80 per cent of all blindness can be prevented or cured.
  3. In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
  • Supported over 262.5 million treatments for blinding and potentially blinding conditions
  • Carried out over 8.1 million operations to restore sight
  • Trained almost 500,000 primary eye care workers
  • Carried out rehabilitation training to 123,000 blind or low vision beneficiaries


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