OPC is known for being a trusted partner of renowned health organizations such as WHO, working towards the prevention and treatment of blindness in Francophone, Africa.
From mass antibiotic distribution to education and sanitation, our tactical strategy to eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) works.
Alongside our established efforts against trachoma, the leading cause of blindness, in French-speaking African countries, we expanded our services beyond blindness causing NTDs in 2017, to combat co-endemics schistosomiasis (SCH) and soil-transmitted helminths (STH), or intestinal worms.
With success helping 2 million children through medication and follow-up care in nine regions of Chad, we are proud to announce our partnership with SightSavers to expand our treatment of SCH-STH to an additional seven regions.
What are Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminths?
Like trachoma, both SCH and STH are NTDs in which underserved communities in tropical and sub-tropical areas are most at risk.
Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease caused by parasitic worms that live in freshwater snails, affecting nearly 240 million people worldwide. Among all NTDs, it’s the deadliest – causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in urine or stool. Left untreated, SCH can cause irreversible harm to the body, such as liver scarring, kidney failure, or bladder cancer.
Similarly, soil-transmitted helminths, known as intestinal worms, are caused by parasitic worms such as hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm. Ailing more than 1.5 billion people around the world, STH causes malnutrition, anemia, abdominal pain, stunted growth, and impaired cognitive function. Children can also die from intestinal blockages caused by the worms.
Treating Co-Endemics Makes Sense
Our unwavering commitment to addressing diseases such as SCH and STH, though they may not directly impact eyesight, is integral to ensuring the overall health and well-being of the communities we serve. In many regions of Francophone Africa, OPC adeptly tackles both:
- Blindness-causing NTDs: trachoma and onchocerciasis (or “river blindness”)
- Other NTDs such as lymphatic filariasis (also known as LF, leading to elephantiasis and disability), SCH and STH.
SCH-STH on one hand, and Oncho-LF on another hand, tend to be addressed as pairs since they tend to be co-endemic and can be treated with the same deworming medication, streamlining interventions for comprehensive impact. This strategic approach allows OPC to tailor interventions to the unique requirements of each disease group, ensuring targeted and effective treatments.
How We’re Expanding
Leveraging our established program with demonstrated success, OPC remains the ideal leader in the prevention and treatment of NTDs like SCH and STH.
In the upcoming three years, we will continue and expand our efforts, with a dedicated focus on:
- Collaborating with the Chadian Ministry of Health in the adoption and implementation of the prevention and treatment of NTDs.
- Training healthcare workers, teachers, and community leaders to provide maternal and child healthcare in endemic regions.
- Treating school-aged children between ages 5-14 for SCH and STH through mass drug distributions.
- Running post-mass drug distribution surveys to understand the needs and effectiveness of our programs.
- Collaborating with Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) actors for educational campaigns.
- Partnering with food programs to prevent side effects.
How You Can Help
All of us have a part to play in ensuring individuals have access to healthcare, regardless of where they are born. As we take on this expanded scope, we urgently need your help to mobilize our mission.
Please consider making a tax-deductible, year-end contribution to OPC to help us eliminate SCH and STH, one person at a time. Your gift will change the life and future of a child infected by a neglected tropical disease.