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BBC Africa films first trachoma operations in Benin

September 2019

One of BBC Africa’s flagshipTV programmes has featured the story of two women from Benin as they have surgery for blinding trachoma, showing how the treatment has transformed their lives.

A team from ‘La Vie’, BBC Africa’s French-language health programme, met Orou Baye Adama, 75, and Bona Woure Dafiya, 50, to follow their journey before, during and after their sight-saving surgery.

The two women were among nine people living in the Nikki region in the north of the country who took part in the country’s first ever surgical campaign in July 2019. The campaign was carried out by the Benin Ministry of Health and Sightsavers as part of the Accelerate trachoma elimination programme.

The TV crew visited Orou and Bona in their homes the day before surgery, and heard about how the agonising disease had affected their lives. Bona described how she relied on her daughter-in-law, Mannou, to come running and pluck out her lashes when the pain became unbearable. Orou, a former traditional dancer from the area, talked about how her advanced condition had taken away her independence and how she longed to work, walk in the sun and dance again.

Their operations in a nearby rural health centre were filmed, with explanations from surgeon Dr Amadou about how the surgery saves sight. On the third day, the bandages were removed and celebrations shared.

Bona said: “I’m very happy and thankful. Now it’s finished. We are free. Thanks to the operation, I can now open my eyes fully.”

Orou danced for the cameras and said: “You can see I am smiling, even laughing. What happened was really easy and I am really happy.”

In 2014, about 3.5 million people were at risk of trachoma in Benin, but numbers are going down and it is hoped the blinding eye disease will be eliminated in the country within the next few years.

The Accelerate Programme is supported by supported by Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), The ELMA Foundation UK, UK aid, Virgin Unite and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Watch the programme below (in French), or download an English translation (pdf).

A still from BBC Africa's La Vie programme, showing a woman having her eyes examined, plus the BBC logo.
The TV coverage featured the stories of trachoma patients including 50-year-old Bona.

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