DONATE

Commonwealth Fund protects 10 million people from trachoma

September 2020
A volunteer inspects a baby's eyes for signs of trachoma.
Community health volunteer James Lomuria inspects the eyes of one-month-old Amoni for signs of trachoma in Turkana, Kenya.

At the end of the two-year Commonwealth Fund, Sightsavers and partners have delivered 11.7 million treatments to manage trachoma and carried out nearly 32,000 surgeries for the advanced form of the disease in 10 countries.  

Since 2018, Sightsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation have supported the efforts of ministries of health and local communities in these countries to eliminate trachoma – the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness and which is part of a group of conditions known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The Commonwealth Fund was created to ensure that citizens in trachoma-endemic countries could get the eye care they needed. To achieve these goals, the partners have used the SAFE strategy – an approach approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to control the spread of trachoma – which includes surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements. They have also trained thousands of local volunteers to distribute medicine and carried out more than 100 surveys to collect vital trachoma data.

The UK aid-funded programme has had great success in the road to elimination, inclusion and health-system strengthening, including:

  • Eliminating trachoma thresholds in one-third of the districts in the countries supported by the fund. Out of the 270 districts (or equivalent areas), 90 reached elimination thresholds for this painful and debilitating disease.
  • Supporting Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu prepare dossiers for submission to the WHO to declare the countries trachoma free.
  • Reaching people who do not have easy access to medical services. In Kenya, for example, the partners reached nomadic communities in northern Turkana.
  • Generating data to show where trachoma is a public health problem, which will allow countries such as Pakistan to provide more targeted treatment.
  • Strengthening countries’ health systems by working closely with and training staff, improving the use of data by standardising data tools, and incorporating trachoma data into district and national health information systems.

Edwin Simiyu, a trachoma surgeon working through the Commonwealth Fund in Turkana in Kenya is optimistic about the future: “With availability of resources and commitment from all the stakeholders it will be possible to eliminate trachoma.”

Sightsavers continues its fight to eliminate trachoma with its Ascend and Accelerate programmes.

Community member is screened for trachoma in Turkana, Kenya

About the Commonwealth Fund

Thanks to UK aid funding, Sightsavers has led Commonwealth Fund work towards trachoma elimination in 10 countries.

About the Fund

Read all our latest news stories

News from Sightsavers
During a press interview in Senegal, a man faces a video camera while speaking into a microphone. Three fellow event attendees are standing behind him.
sightsavers_news

Senegal launches action plan to collect high-quality inclusive data

The initiative outlines the steps needed to ensure that people with disabilities are represented in official data, which will inform the government’s planning and monitoring.

December 2022
A large group of school students in Malawi. They're wearing bright blue uniforms and are gathered outside, smiling and cheering.
sightsavers_news
News /

In 2022, thanks to you…

It’s been another amazing year where we’ve been able to protect sight, fight disease and empower people with disabilities. Here, we share our highlights, all made possible by you.

December 2022
A young boy drinks water after receiving preventative medication for lymphatic filariasis in Guinea-Bissau.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers awarded grant to fight neglected tropical diseases in Guinea-Bissau

The Astellas Global Health Foundation is giving US$536,700 to help combat river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

December 2022

Learn about our work to save sight