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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.