The UK charity Sightsavers works with people that have Neglected tropical disease (NTD). The conditions in question impact the lives of more than a billion people around the world. Besides prevention, there is also an urgent need to develop effective treatment plans for people living with the diseases.

A research team from Sightsavers, working in Nigeria, combines medical research and art to raise awareness of the issue. What did they do exactly?


About the Research

The research program led by Martins Imhansoloeva wants to determine what prevents people from gaining treatment for NTDs. This approach aimed to determine the real situation on the field as it is encountered by the patients. Also, the research was done with face-to-face interviews and focus groups. Furthermore, the participants in the study are from the state of Kebbi and Benue.

The research team chose to use a community-based approach in their research. That is, frontline medical workers and patients from the community were trained to help with the interviewing process. This approach is helpful because it gives the researchers direct content with communities that suffer from NTDs.


The Findings

After the research, several issues came up in the findings. They all tell of the reasons that prevent patients from finding an effective treatment. Furthermore, it is also obvious that living with these conditions impacts the mental health of patients.

Here are the main issues that came up during the research:

  • People have a fear that they cannot afford to pay for their treatment, because of this they avoid seeking help.
  • Informants spoke about the stigmatization they experience in their daily lives. Mostly this occurs because of superstition and lack of scientific knowledge.
  • Sometimes the attitude of health workers prevents people from finding appropriate treatment.
  • Many of the informants want their examination done by health workers that are of the same gender as them.
  • Furthermore, it is often difficult for the patients to reach the clinic and hospital because it is inaccessible to them. This complaint was especially prevalent among older patients that have difficulties moving.


The Art

A local artist Christian Okwananke gave the final contribution to the project through his art. That is, he made illustrations depicting the issues that came up during the research. Those illustrations have two purposes. First, they can help raise global awareness of NTDs and the impact it has on people’s lives. Second, the illustrations helped the research team initiate a healthy discussion with government officials and representatives of health organizations.


About the Organization
  1. Sightsavers is an international organization that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, and promote the rights of people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110)
  2. In the seven decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
    • Supported more than 1.2 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases
    • Carried out more than 7.7 million cataract operations to restore sight
    • Carried out more than 196 million eye examinations
    • Dispensed more than 4.6 million glasses
  3. Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organizations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high-quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.


Related Articles

Refugees with PTSD May Influence the Mental Health of their Children

A Questionnaire May Help Determine if Preeclampsia Can Develop

Main Takeaways
  • New research from Sightsavers uncovers the reality of life with Neglected tropical disease.
  • The research team uses art to help raise awareness of the conditions and their impact on the lives of patients.

How participatory research can change the lives of people affected by NTDs

Prejudice, poverty, gender – illustrations show the reality of living with disease