Getting people to stand up and take action is at the core of the Mectizan Donation Programme’s remit. Especially when the intended audience are Ministers of Health in African countries. This is the first of a series of films intended to get key influencers to commit to putting their name to a 30 year-long elimination programme – ridding Africa of River Blindness or onchocerciasis. If we work together we can stamp out oncho!
We used a local fixer to go in search of stories that were set up in advance of our shooting producer director’s arrival. We then worked with a wonderful local photographer and camera assistant to create a more integrated team and integrate more in to remote and challenging settings.
It started off a relationship with Cameroon and Nigeria that continues to this day, adding to the list of the many African countries that we have ties with.
Sightsavers delivers the one billionth treatment for River Blindness, a parasite-borne condition that leads to severe disability and the destruction of entire communities. Because of mass treatment programmes like those run by Sightsavers, young children like Dorcas can live a very different life to her grandfather, who was made blind by river blindness.
Cloud9Media was there to witness this incredible moment – reminding us how incredibly important this work is.
In the developing world, the impact of Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is still being felt. For many with this debilitating condition, the social stigma (sometimes self-imposed) can lead to social exclusion and even estrangement from family.
In Ghana, Kofi Nyarko is a man on a mission. As someone who has had Hansen’s disease himself, he now dedicates his life to reuniting other sufferers with their families – some of whom haven’t seen their family in decades. In this moving film, Kofi shares his message of hope. Today, Hansen’s disease can easily be treated with a simple drug. But the social stigma is more difficult to overcome. We travel with him on two momentous days, as James and Ekua are reunited with their families after more than 30 years apart.
This film was commissioned by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) to give a human face to Hansen’s disease.
Charles and his remote eye surgery team (supported by Sightsavers and UTCNTDs) is on hand to find people with trachoma and transport them to the mobile eye surgery where they can be treated. A simple operation can be hugely effective, often restoring full sight. Equally importantly, health education work is being carried out in these regions to help prevention of trachoma, which is transmitted by flies, for future generations.
To film the story, we took a five-hour road trip from Nairobi to Kajioda County to work in dry and sometimes difficult shooting conditions. But it was truly inspiring to see the impact that this programme is having on individuals and families – people come in blind, and they leave with their vision restored. Thanks to the work of UTCNTDs, Sightsavers and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, who support local healthcare teams, we think this is a truly awesome programme. The film was played at the UTCNTDs UN conference in 2015, and we were proud to help share this story with a wider audience.