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Trachoma elimination moves closer, a year after groundbreaking TED talk

April 2019
A woman has a big smile after receiving trachoma surgery

In the year since Sightsavers’ CEO gave a TED Talk about plans to eliminate blinding trachoma, we have continued to fight preventable diseases, providing more than 113 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases in 2018 alone.

Caroline Harper launched an ambitious plan to eliminate trachoma during her talk at the TED conference in April 2018, which has now been watched more than 1.2 million times by people around the world.

Since then, Sightsavers and a network of partners have provided more than 44,000 operations to treat the advanced stages of trachoma and save people’s sight.

Looking back on the year, Dr Harper said: “What a year it has been since I had the privilege of making a TED talk, sharing a dream of eliminating one of the world’s oldest diseases.

“Blinding trachoma has been devastating lives since the time of the ancient Nubians, but now we are in a stronger position to accelerate reaching its end.

“Following the TED talk, a group of leading philanthropists have come together to prevent more than 56 million people from going blind in agony over the next five years. It is a truly amazing achievement.”

The TED talk was part of the launch of the Audacious Project, an initiative hosted by TED to turn transformative ideas into action. As a result, a $105 million fund was set up by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund FoundationThe ELMA FoundationUK aid and Virgin Unite. This Accelerate programme aims to help at least 10 countries eliminate trachoma and speed up progress in several others by 2023.

Momentum is gathering to eliminate trachoma. Thanks to the work of endemic countries and the support of individuals, families and organisations, since 2011 the number of people at risk of trachoma has halved.

Sightsavers and partners are hoping to make history by ridding the world of this painful disease. But more funding and support is needed to finish the work.

A girl from Senegal is measured for her annual dose of medication.

The Accelerate Programme

The programme aims to help at least 10 countries eliminate trachoma as a public health risk and speed up progress in several others by 2023.

More about the project

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