SCI Foundation is now Unlimit Health. Learn more about what the change means for our ongoing efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) adversely affect the lives of more than 1.5 billion people in the most marginalised communities. Given the scale of need and the devastating health, social and economic impacts, the control and elimination of NTDs is crucial.
There has been much progress since 2010 – around 500 million fewer people are at risk and 40 countries have eliminated at least one NTD.
The Accelerating the Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Disease (Ascend) programme was a three-year programme funded by UK Aid that ran for two years, working to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in West and Central Africa. Watch a short explainer video here.
The Ascend programme was set up to make major progress towards eliminating five NTDs, in thirteen countries.
The programme focused on five diseases: lymphatic filariasis (LF); onchocerciasis; trachoma, schistosomiasis (SCH) and soil-transmitted helminths (STH), offering an opportunity to redouble efforts and increase momentum towards ending these diseases.
Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Implementing partners: Unlimit Health was part of a consortium of partners led by Sightsavers, along with Mott Macdonald and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Funded by: UK Aid
In its first year, the Ascend West and Central Africa programme made a huge impact and surpassed many of its targets, including the unpredicted feat of adapting funds to support ministries with their Covid-19 response at the end of the year.
Following guidance from the World Health Organization in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, all activities involving large gatherings were put on hold across all countries to ensure people’s safety. We followed the approaches taken by national governments closely, to assess when it was possible and safe to resume.
Beginning in March 2020, the Ascend team prioritised flexing our activities, and developed a series of Covid-19 activities to support the targeted countries response to the pandemic. The activities build on all the partners’ existing presence and trusted working relationships with ministries of health, other government and local partners in each country, and our experience in strengthening local health systems. We brought expertise in social behaviour change communications, adapting our NTD focused behaviour change communications and water and sanitation and hygiene component to provide timely, focused support to national communications to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.