Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper visited East Africa this week to highlight the advances being made by Tanzania and Uganda to eliminate blinding trachoma, with the support of Sightsavers and other partners.
Dr Harper’s trip began in Tanzania, where she met senior officials of the Ministry of Health’s neglected tropical disease (NTD) coordination office and visited Sightsavers’ NTD programme in the Pwani region, which is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Guided by the World Health Organization’s global action plan, Towards 2020, Tanzania, working with Sightsavers and other NGOs, is making good progress towards eliminating trachoma in several regions.
After her visit to Tanzania, which also took in meetings with senior officials to discuss strengthening eye health services, Dr Harper travelled to neighbouring Uganda to attend an event celebrating the headway made towards eliminating trachoma in the country.
During the event, in Dokolo district, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust announced it is expanding its Trachoma Initiative in Uganda, which is being undertaken with the support of Lions Clubs International Foundation.
The Chief Executive of the Trust, Dr Astrid Bonfield, said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce our expansion of the Trachoma Initiative across 14 new districts of Uganda. We are proud to be working with the Ministry of Health and our partners towards the elimination of the disease across the country by 2019.”
The Trust helps to finance the work of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, of which Sightsavers and Lions Clubs International Foundation are both members.
Dr Harper said “It is inspiring to see first-hand the progress both Tanzania and Uganda are making on the road to eliminating blinding trachoma – a horrible disease that has a devastating personal and economic impact on the people affected and their families. It also demonstrates how the partnership between the national ministries of health and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control is really delivering results.”