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Accelerate: what’s been achieved in 2019

The Accelerate programme, which aims to eliminate trachoma in nine African countries by 2023, has made great progress in its first 12 months. Here are some of the highlights.

December 2019
Trachoma surgeon checks the eyes of a patient for signs of trachoma outside her home in Benin.

December 2018

Donors invested more than $100 million for the Accelerate programme, which launched on 2 December at the Global Citizen concert in Johannesburg: it was announced by Richard Branson via recorded video link, and introduced on stage by community volunteer Precious. The concert celebrated the legacy of Nelson Mandela and featured performances by Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran.
Read more about the event

In Zambia, a boy teaches his sister how to wash her face to prevent trachoma.

January 2019

In Zambia, a boy teaches his sister how to wash her face to prevent trachoma.

The start of the year marked the launch of a neglected tropical disease (NTD) toolkit devoted to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The toolkit offers guidance to NTD programme managers and partners, showing them how to work with the community to give people affected by NTDs better access to clean water and information about good hygiene. Sightsavers helped to create this important, sector-wide resource. See the toolkit

Zenabu dances and sings with joy after having her sight restored through surgery.

January 2019

Also in January, Forbes published a case study documenting how Sightsavers and partners helped Ghana to make history by becoming the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma. Forbes also celebrated the announcement of the Accelerate programme and the role of the Audacious Project in helping to eliminate this ancient disease. Read Forbes’ case study

 

February 2019

During the first quarter of the year, many programme countries conducted surveys to pinpoint exactly where the disease is a problem. One example is Côte d’Ivoire, where eight health districts were surveyed for trachoma to highlight where the disease is prevalent and where treatment is needed. Almost 11,000 households were screened, including 22,000 children and 23,000 adults. The mapping found that in some districts, at least one in 10 children showed signs of trachoma. Staff then provided medication to treat them.

A community volunteer from Nigeria stands for a portrait holding a dose pole, which is used to measure patients' height and determine how much medication they require.

March 2019

Treatment activities started to get into full swing in some programme countries, including Nigeria, where 6,805 patients with advanced trachoma were referred for surgery. In total, 50 trachoma surgeons and 6,600 community volunteers were trained, 2.9 million treatments were delivered in 10 areas, and 11 trachoma surveys were carried out. The TT tracker, which uses mobile phones to collect and analyse data about surgery and performance, was running in Kano, Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina and Yobe.

A trachoma surgeon stands for a portrait wearing his surgical scrubs and mask.

April 2019

A trachoma surgeon stands for a portrait wearing his surgical scrubs and mask.

More than 150 people from four countries received training to help them fight trachoma: participants included ministry of health NTD coordinators, data managers, regional and district focal points, trachoma surgeons and NGO staff. Eight master/national trainers from three countries were trained, 65 surgeons were certified, and trachoma tracker training started in Benin.

A man distributes treatment to a trachoma patient in Zimbabwe.

May 2019

Through Accelerate, Zimbabwe undertook its largest-ever distribution of trachoma medication (also known as mass drug administration, or MDA) in 10 districts. In total, this protected 1.4 million people from trachoma in one week. Read our blog about how technology was used efficiently to make this happen.

Issa, Mayasa and Bibie outside their home

June 2019

Issa, Mayasa and Bibie outside their home

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a 91 per cent fall in trachoma, from 1.5 billion people at risk in 2002 to 142 million today. Media outlets such as The Telegraph and Global Citizen helped to welcome this news. Watch Global Citizen's video featuring Accelerate's Deputy Director Moses Chege.

A surgeon performs trachoma surgery on a patient in Benin.

June 2019

Also by June 2019, 8.5 million people had been treated with antibiotics to protect them from trachoma, 13,685 patients with advanced trachoma were assessed by healthcare staff, and 69 surgeons had been trained and certified to deliver pain relief and carry out sight-saving surgery. The scope of the programme expanded from 12 African countries to 14.

A still from BBC Africa's La Vie programme, showing a woman having her eyes examined, plus the BBC logo.

July 2019

A still from BBC Africa's La Vie programme, showing a woman having her eyes examined, plus the BBC logo.

A TV crew from BBC Africa filmed the historic moment when Benin started providing sight-saving trachoma operations for the first time thanks to Accelerate. The show aired on TV channels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Benin, Niger and Cameroon. Watch the video in French or read the English transcript

Caroline Harper speaks at the TED summit in July 2019.

July 2019

Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper partnered with the END Fund to fuel the global conversation about NTDs by hosting a session at the TED Summit in Edinburgh. Dr Harper highlighted how the WHO-approved SAFE strategy is helping to fight the disease, while the END Fund’s Sam Mayer explained how deworming programmes can drastically reduce the number of people infected with intestinal worms. Read more about the summit

School children in Africa use a tap to wash their hands and faces.

August 2019

School children in Africa use a tap to wash their hands and faces.

Planning meetings continued with programme partners who are providing support for water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives. This work ensures people in areas affected by trachoma have access to clean water and are educated about ways to improve hygiene, which can prevent the spread of infection and lower their risk of contracting the disease.

A man collects data from trachoma surgeries on his mobile phone.

September 2019

Accelerate’s mHealth work was chosen from more than 1,000 applications for the Global Best Practice showcase at the Dubai and UAE Expo. The showcase aimed to enable organisations to share their knowledge so they can learn from each other, sparking solutions in other parts of the world. Read the news story or learn more about the Expo.

Trachoma group screening

October 2019

Trachoma group screening

World Sight Day (10 October) is an annual event that raises awareness of visual impairments and calls on the global community to help to eliminate avoidable blindness. To mark the event in 2019, the World Health Organization published the first ever World Report on Vision. The report highlighted that progress towards eliminating trachoma is proving successful, but also that $5.8 billion is still needed to treat people affected by glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma combined. Read the report

A woman from Turkana in Kenya pours water into a bucket on the banks of a river.

November 2019

Sightsavers visited Turkana in Kenya to document the success of the outreach work to eliminate trachoma in the country. Through Accelerate, Sightsavers is completing the last few operations for advanced trachoma in the region, and the programme will continue to provide medication to prevent and treat the earlier stages of the disease.

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

With thanks…

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

We’d like to thank every individual supporter and partner organisation involved in trachoma elimination in 2019. We are especially grateful to the funders of Accelerate:
Children's Investment Fund Foundation
The ELMA Foundation
UK aid
Virgin Unite
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Together, we are just a few years away from eliminating an ancient disease.

Find out more about the Accelerate programme

About Accelerate
A volunteer drug distributor washing hands washes someone's hands.
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