In January, we joined the first ever World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day to raise awareness of the group of diseases trachoma belongs to.
In the first three months of 2020, we supported teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe to deliver 12.6 million antibiotics to treat and help stop the spread of NTDs.
When COVID-19 struck, field activities were paused. But we immediately started planning ahead. Together with the World Health Organization (WHO), governments and partners, we began developing a risk assessment and mitigation action tool, which would help to safely and quickly resume fieldwork once suspensions were lifted.
In the meantime, in the field, we saw health workers going above and beyond their duties, such as Babacar in Senegal. Under strict COVID-19 safety measures, Babacar continued to perform surgery for trichiasis, the advanced stage of trachoma, on people who came to his clinic.
We provided training for more than 30,000 community volunteers this year, including those identifying cases of trachoma and those distributing antibiotics.
We won a Pierre Fabre Foundation award for our TT (trachomatous trichiasis) Tracker app.
We heard the good news that our efforts were contributing to the bigger picture, when the WHO announced that the number of people needing surgery to treat the advanced stage of trachoma had declined from 7.6 million in 2002 to 2 million in 2020.
In July, treatments could be resumed and we supported one million of them in Nigeria . Thanks to our detailed preparation we continued work in the field rapidly, with special safety measures in place.
We adapted personal protective equipment through a face shield design challenge to find the most feasible way to wear magnifying glasses, a face shield and a mask for health workers assessing eyes for trachoma and carrying out surgery – without the protective layers steaming up.
In October in Burkina Faso, we began our first Tropical Data surveys since COVID-19 broke out, with the aim of surveying more than 20,000 people for trachoma.
Surgeries resumed in Katsina, Nigeria. Each time we resume work we are reviewing all our activities, and using what we learn to adapt work where needed in other areas and countries.