Sightsavers has today launched an ambitious campaign to raise money to eliminate blinding eye disease trachoma.
The End is in Sight campaign is backed by the UK government’s UK Aid Match programme, which will double any donations made by the UK public between 15 February and 15 May 2019.
Trachoma is an agonising, debilitating disease that traps people in a vicious cycle of pain, blindness and poverty. It stops children from playing with their friends and going to school, and it stops adults from working, looking after their family and being a productive part of their community. Yet trachoma is totally preventable.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “It costs just 15p to treat a person infected with trachoma, which could stop them becoming blind. Yet across Tanzania, some of the country’s most vulnerable people are still living with this preventable disease.
“Sightsavers is committed to eliminating trachoma by 2025, and through UK Aid Match, the government and the British public are part of this vital work by backing the appeal.
“UK aid will double every pound the public donate to this campaign, meaning that their generosity will go twice as far.”
Sightsavers has been fighting the disease for many years. Alongside a team of international organisations and governments, the charity aims to eliminate the disease by 2025.
Sightsavers-supported surgeons visit isolated communities, screen villagers for trachoma and provide sight-saving surgery to those who need it. The organisation also works with community volunteers, who distribute antibiotics that protect against the disease.
Two-year-old Nalukena (pictured above), who lives in rural Zambia, had been infected with trachoma since she was born, and it was clear she was in a lot of distress. Her parents knew she was in pain, but they had no idea why.
After Nalukena received her treatment, her father, Likwathi, said: “If we wipe out trachoma, the nation will benefit, because it will have an educated generation who can go to school and then go to work. I would like my daughter to be doctor.”
The matched funding from UK aid will go towards the elimination of trachoma in Tanzania, helping to transform the lives of some of the most marginalised people in the country.
Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper said: “It is now within our grasp to be part of history and stop trachoma in its tracks. This persistent disease can turn eyelashes inwards so that with every blink they scrape against the eyeball, slowly and torturously turning people blind. Yet it is treatable and preventable. Everyone who donates to Sightsavers’ End is in Sight appeal could help us get one step closer to consigning this awful disease to history.”
The trachoma infection can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as 15p per treatment. A straightforward operation to treat the advanced stages of the disease costs just £44.
Donations to the appeal made between 15 February and 15 May will be doubled by the UK government. Donations will be used to support Sightsavers’ work wherever the need is greatest. The matched funds raised through UK Aid Match will support projects in Tanzania.