L’Occitane Foundation

Sightsavers and French beauty brand L’Occitane are working together to eliminate two tropical diseases in Burkina Faso.

A panorama of a village in Burkina Faso, showing dusty red roads and lush green trees.

Since 2013, L’Occitane Foundation has been supporting Sightsavers to eliminate river blindness and trachoma in the Cascades region of Burkina Faso.

Thanks to the brand’s support, we are working with the Ministry of Health to tackle the diseases in one of the two regions in the country where river blindness is still endemic. The project provides medical training to local healthcare workers, hosts screening campaigns, and provides operations and mass drug administration, all in collaboration with local communities. It has so far provided more than 500,000 treatments against river blindness and more than 100 trachoma operations.

Over the past five years, the funding from the foundation has helped to reduce the number of people with river blindness and trachoma significantly. In one area of the Cascades Region, river blindness infections decreased by as much as 96 per cent.

L'Occitane Foundation focuses on eye health, female empowerment and conserving biodiversity in 28 countries.

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Three people, one in a yellow Sightsavers t-shirt, sit round a table filling in paperwork.
At the Koflandé health centre in Banfora, Sightsavers staff and health workers discuss how to distribute treatment.

About the Foundation

L’Occitane Foundation was created in 2006 by the brand L’Occitane en Provence, to bring together and develop charity initiatives undertaken by the brand since its inception.

Burkina Faso, from where L’Occitane sources shea butter – one of the key ingredients in many of its world-renowned products – has remained one of the key areas of focus of its support.

What are river blindness and trachoma?

Neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma and river blindness are a major health problem in Burkina Faso. It’s estimated that 16 million people are at risk of contracting one or more of these debilitating diseases which, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. However, both diseases can be simple to prevent.

River blindness, technically known as onchocerciasis, is a parasitic infection spread by the bite of black flies that live near fast flowing rivers. It causes severe skin irritation, itching and, eventually, irreversible blindness.

Trachoma is a painful bacterial condition that can cause blindness through repeated infections. The disease thrives where there are water shortages, poor sanitation and infestations of flies. It is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.

A close-up of flies in a test tube.

About river blindness

River blindness, or onchocerciasis, can cause sight loss, but the disease can prevented with medication and good hygiene.

More on river blindness

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