Against all odds, community drug distributors in Niger are providing NTD treatment to populations at risk. Niger is a vast West African country in the Sahel, of which two thirds (1,267,000 km2) is mostly desert.
Battling temperatures up to 45 °C, violent sandstorms, sudden drastic changes in weather, security risks and long distances on foot, community drug distributors are making a sacrifice for their communities and their country and are to be celebrated.
Villages are very far apart, especially in the northern part of the country. Even within the same village, homesteads may be up to 5 km apart. At times, the drug distributors travel distances of up to 170 km on sand and stone, making it difficult even by motorcycle.
The central zones are populated primarily by nomadic groups, who may change their location weekly or sometimes daily, however, the drug distributors working in the NTD programme keep up with their movements in order to maintain high treatment coverage.
In spite of all the challenges, in 2016 alone, nearly 9 million people were treated for one or more NTD, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).