Anesvad has as its main objective the promotion and protection of health as a Fundamental Human Right.


    Lack of health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty.


    Health is an inalienable Human Right and we must contribute towards it in order to progress in development.


Photo: Ana Palacios

We are an organisation committed to the Right to Health of the most impoverished and neglected people on the planet. Our field of intervention focuses on skin diseases such as Buruli ulcer, yaws, leprosy and lymphatic filariasis. These are four of the eighteen Neglected Tropical Diseases catalogued by the World Health Organisation, which affect millions of people around the world. They are diseases which feed the cycle of poverty, which are both its cause and consequence, and which make the struggle against inequality insurmountable. They appear together in areas where people have no access to water in order to be able to maintain minimum levels of hygiene, where there is poor sanitation and precarious housing where the insects which carry diseases are a chronic issue.

The figures continue to demonstrate that we need to act:

  • 1700 million people need treatment for neglected tropical diseases in 185 countries
  • 1800 million people drink contaminated water and 946 million people defecate outdoors.
  • More than 2.7 million people need treatment and care for diseases such as Buruli ulcer and leprosy

These diseases mainly affect children, hampering their normal development and preventing them from leading the life which at their age they should be able to. They each cause great human suffering due to the fact that if they are not treated in time, they can lead to disfigurement and amputations. The wounds are visible for life, creating a huge stigma for those who have them. The suffering they cause is largely invisible. The social, cultural and economic circumstances of the people who contract them prevent them from accessing healthcare facilities, getting treatment or even knowing they are sick.


Neglected Tropical Diseases

Photo: Ana Palacios

However, these diseases can be cured. Better yet, they can be prevented. That is why here at Anesvad we work with local organisations and governments in order to tackle these diseases together, since there are geographical overlaps and because the human consequences are in many cases similar. With an approach based on Human Rights, and which involves all the links of the health chain, we intend to achieve a greater impact by means of a comprehensive strategy which necessarily involves working under the umbrella of the Primary Health Care Strategy (PHC) in order to improve the standard of health of the entire community. We do not just approach the diseases from a health point of view - diagnosis, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation - but rather we strive for a more just and equitable distribution of resources. If the people at risk have access to drinking water, are trained in good hygiene and sanitation practices and have a healthy diet, they will be less likely to contract this type of disease. And if they do contract them, they will have more resources available to them in order to be able to deal with it.

Photo: Ana Palacios

We incorporate - as we do in all our projects, in a crosscutting fashion - the perspectives of gender, disability, interculturality and environmental sustainability, paying special attention to their connections with the Right to Health.

Our fight against this type of disease is part of our commitment to Universal Health Coverage, which aims to ensure that all people receive the health services they need, without having to endure financial hardship to pay for them.

Sustainable development goals, Anesvad and Neglected Diseases

Here at Anesvad we are working to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Objective 3 of the 2030 agenda aims to guarantee health and wellbeing for all people, at every stage of life, and includes the Neglected Tropical Diseases, which are the central focus of our work. The SDGs do not target particular diseases but rather they have a broad health objective which seeks to achieve Universal Health Coverage from a global perspective, and not just per country.

In 2012, more than 800 million people had access to preventive treatment for at least one of these 18 diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Statistics report published by the WHO shows that the policies of many countries are still far from achieving universal health coverage in healthcare services. In Africa, millions of people are faced with what are known as "catastrophic health expenditure" when it comes to receiving medical attention. This is expenditure which exceeds 25% of the total expenditure of the family economy and which places them in greater poverty.

Photo: Ana Palacios

The interventions in relation to neglected diseases such as those which ANESVAD implements in Benin, Ghana or Ivory Coast require the start-up of several actions:

  • 1.


    Water, hygiene and sewers are essential to combat and prevent forgotten diseases that affect the most deprived and poorest people that live in extreme poverty, without access to the most elementary measures of hygiene. In these communities, there are few accessible options for health, there are no sources of clean drinking water, they do not know what a tap or a toilet is. Moreover, once water and toilets are installed for them, we have to focus on education, teaching them good hygiene practices and showing them how to improve their health by using clean water and toilets.

  • 2.


    The diseases we work with are prevalent in contexts of vulnerability and poverty, places in which healthcare professionals are in short supply. Therefore, it is essential to motivate them, to broaden their knowledge and guarantee the best attention to sick people. All our projects include not only training healthcare personnel, but also the first link in the health chain, the health promoters. These are people who live in the communities and receive the minimum training to be able to help their neighbours. In addition, through awareness and information campaigns in the communities, we also work on early detection of diseases, to reduce their impact on sick people by treating them earlier. All these activities result in a reinforcement of health systems. Only in this way can we guarantee the sustainability of the interventions and will we achieve our ultimate goal: to implement real changes that will endure in time to improve living conditions of the people we work for.

  • 3.

    Treatment, care and rehabilitation

    Once the disease has been detected, we work to ensure that all people receive the same treatment, wherever they are or whatever the stage of their illness is, all people have the same rights. Therefore, we guarantee complete treatment including hospital admission if necessary, medicine, food and even school support in the case of children, the group most commonly affected by these diseases. We also handle the most serious cases, which require surgery and subsequent rehabilitation to recover the mobility of the affected members and reduce the stigma and mental and physical consequences of these diseases.

  • 4.


    Anesvad supports the supply of medicine to the health centres to guarantee that everyone receives treatment. Although Buruli ulcer is a disease with a mode of infection that is still unknown, there is a combination of antibiotics that can cure patients, if treated in the early stages. Since 1995, there has also been a free treatment for leprosy and in the case of yaws, recent discoveries can cure affected people with a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic commonly used for infections such pharyngitis.

  • 5.


    In many of the communities and regions affected by these diseases, their origin is mystical and related to curses. This means that people suffering from these diseases hide the fact or they are rejected by their neighbours, or even their families. For this reason, information and awareness are essential for the necessary information to reach these locations enabling them to understand that they are questions of health requiring treatment. If this does not happen, the consequences are serious: poverty is perpetuated and stigma and rejection will be unavoidable. To enable cured people to recover their lives and get a chance to work and earn money, we implement entrepreneurship and social reintegration in the centres themselves, and with associations of ex-patients.


We fight against the Buruli ulcer

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