In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis put a great strain on health systems around the world, disrupting millions of lives. The pandemic imposed the “minimal” service delivery status on many nonprofit organizations, which dealt with emergencies only, as international travel was severely restricted and also limited within countries themselves.
Nonprofit organizations rose to meet and overcome these challenges whenever possible, including OPC. Despite the pandemic, most of OPC’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) activities in Africa carried on, implemented by teams from the Ministries of Health from OPC’s partner countries. These activities took place after thorough risk assessment and mitigation analysis, to ensure the health and safety of the teams and the communities they visited.
The process through which risk assessments are examined is very stringent. Activities must not harm the patient or the health professionals and be implemented with all precaution measures. If not urgent, a given eye care activity can wait until a better time.
For instance, in Chad, the activities included print and radio advocacy campaigns to stop the spread of COVID-19 by promoting barrier gestures, like covering your mouth when you cough and frequent hand washing, as well as OPC’s NTD programs. Everywhere else, whatever the activity being implemented, the equipment – hydroalcoholic gel, masks and gloves – was provided to the health personal.
In 2020, OPC and its partners treated millions of people in Francophone Africa for trachoma, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis.
OPC is proud to share these key figures from a challenging year:
- 1 baseline trachoma prevalence survey carried out
- 9 billboards created to raise awareness of infectious disease barrier gestures and disseminated in 11 endemic provinces
- 13 mass drug distribution impact surveys carried out
- 60 roll-out of a television spot on anti-Covid-19 barrier gestures
- 421 trachoma complication cases treated
- 2,560 radio spots on hygiene and barrier gestures broadcasted
- 369,497 school children treated for soil-transmitted helminthiasis
- 373,400 people treated for trachoma
- 1,551,244 people treated for schistosomiasis
- 5,113,188 people treated for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis
- 7.4 million people received treatment with OPC support
In Kinkala, in the middle of the Congo’s Pool region, Aline M., a teacher says: “I have 16 years of experience teaching the 3rd grade kids. Well, I can tell which kids in my class might have worms that affect nutrition, growth, attention and capacity to learn. The schistosomiasis and helminthiasis elimination program through preventive drug treatment is very much needed. I signed up to be trained on the drug distribution immediately as I feel it is my duty as a teacher to protect the schoolchildren. A warm thank you to those who support this program.”
We are proud of what we accomplished in Francophone Africa last year in collaboration with our partners, and that OPC made a real, meaningful difference in the lives of millions of underserved children, women, and men.