For Immediate Release
February 2, 2022
U.S. Embassy in Freetown
Phone # JallohA@state.gov
Through United States Partnership, 12 Districts in Sierra Leone Reduced Transmission of Devastating Tropical Diseases
The United States government, through the Agency for International Development (USAID), has supported the Government of Sierra Leone by providing medicines to entire communities through campaigns every year to eliminate several neglected tropical diseases. Because of this partnership with the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health, 12 districts have successfully reduced transmission of lymphatic filariasis (known locally as “bigfoot”), meaning children living in these districts will grow up without the risk of being infected. Additionally, through 14 campaigns to distribute medicines for river blindness, 5.5 million Sierra Leoneans are receiving annual treatment for this disease. Sierra Leone is on track to eliminate these two neglected tropical diseases by 2030.
World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, celebrated every year on January 30th, aims to draw attention to neglected diseases and motivate communities to continue to participate in prevention, including taking part in campaigns to distribute medicines and to practice good hygiene to further reduce the spread of these diseases. This year’s theme for World Neglected tropical diseases day is “Advancing health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases”. The United States, through USAID, remains strongly committed to supporting the people and government of Sierra Leone in eliminating bigfoot and river blindness, and bringing under control other parasitic diseases that can be prevented and treated.
The partnership between the governments of the United States and Sierra Leone and with civil society through Helen Keller International is enabling Sierra Leone to distribute over 125 million medicines valued at over $267 million of donated drugs. These campaigns are crucial to combat neglected tropical diseases endemic in Sierra Leone, including Lymphatic Filariasis (bigfoot), Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Soil Transmitted Helminths (worms) and Schistosomiasis (mansoni).