Sightsavers recently published the blog “How Participatory Research is Helping to Tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases”. The company is dedicated to preventing avoidable blindness in third world countries and underdeveloped parts of the world. They treat diseases like cataracts while also fighting against diseases like trachoma and river blindness that cause blindness. They are also dedicated to partnering with governments around the world to prevent avoidable blindness by creating access to education and clean water. They work with local communities and help people in more than 30 countries around the world. By working with the local governments and international organizations, the company is able to provide treatments to those who need it most. They provide eye exams and surgeries while also promoting and supporting those with disabilities.
The blog reveals how Sightsavers is working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. They are working in Nigeria to prevent the seven most prevalent neglected tropical diseases, also known as NTDs. They are seeking to find ways to control and eliminate these diseases in Nigeria by 2020. Their research teams working in Nigeria have been gathering data from community leaders and men and women throughout the company. They are also trying to create awareness in the local population, providing education and information about NTD programs. By including a variety of different kinds of researchers, they were able to reach the communities that don’t have advocates, particularly children and women in the different districts. By using research methods that include participation, which is simply defined by the people who participate in the research, they will be able to create more in-depth community engagement.
Sightsavers reveals that power imbalances can create issues for the program implementers who are trying to strengthen the skills and process. By using participatory action research, also known as PAR, the company is able to make changes based on the knowledge and experience of those who participate. The NTD program implementers have focused on gathering information on community landmarks and community gathering places to understand where children, men, and women gather. The feedback allows them to train the medicine administrators. The PAR is designed to identify problems while also taking action and creating change based on the experience and knowledge of those participating. It seeks to challenge how power becomes imbalanced and the inequalities present in community health systems. Sightsavers is dedicated to resolving NTD’s in Nigeria and hopes the research will help them administer appropriate help more easily.