(An excerpt from the Mectizan Donation Program Annual Highlights for 2021)
Community drug distributors, known as CDDs, are the backbone of the Mectizan Donation Program. Each year thousands of local volunteers lead the distribution of Mectizan and albendazole and, in some communities, other NTD interventions.
But it’s not as simple as dropping off a package. CDDs—who are not necessarily professional healthcare workers—are trained in the safe management of medications, careful record-keeping, appropriate dosing, choking prevention and other patient safety measures, and communication skills to mobilize communities and to prevent misinformation. They rely on their personal knowledge of the community’s geography and culture to encourage people to accept treatment.
Maryam in Nigeria is one of those people. She received training in the village schoolroom and then set out with colleagues on a mission to distribute Mectizan and albendazole in her native Kebbi State. “We are giving these medicines out today,” she said, “so that the future generation will not even know that there is something like oncho.” Like the treatments she distributes, Maryam’s newfound skills will last a lifetime.