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What Sightsavers achieved in 2021

In a year dominated by the pandemic, Sightsavers once again reached some remarkable milestones. Learn how your support has helped to change lives.

December 2021
Two girls smile and link arms near their home, with dusty ground and trees in the background.
Dr Sencodri Njau smiles while wearing surgical scrubs.

January

Three Sightsavers nominees from Tanzania were honoured in the prestigious 2020 IAPB Vision Excellence Awards. Ophthalmic nurse Anande Swai and cataract surgeons Dr Sencodri Njau (pictured) and Dr Upendo Mwakabalile were rewarded for their work as part of the VISION 2020 initiative, spearheaded by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. Read about their achievement

A man holds up a poster to community members during a COVID awareness campaign.

January

A man holds up a poster to community members during a COVID awareness campaign.

COVID-19 continued to have a huge impact worldwide throughout 2021, yet Sightsavers and partners were able to support governments to deliver millions of treatments to combat neglected tropical diseases. Sightsavers director of NTDs Simon Bush said: “It is vital that our work continues in these challenging times. We need to make sure we support the most marginalised communities even when times are difficult.” Our NTD work during COVID-19

Three bracelets are stacked on top of each other. The design says 'love' in braille.

February

British independent jewellery brand Liv Thurlwell launched a range of Valentine’s bracelets featuring braille writing, with a donation made to Sightsavers for every bracelet sold. The handmade silver and gold bracelets are embossed with the word ‘Love’ in braille. Read about the range

 

An elderly woman and a younger woman sit next to a man who holds a clipboard, in a hospital waiting area.

March

An elderly woman and a younger woman sit next to a man who holds a clipboard, in a hospital waiting area.

Sightsavers hosted an inclusive data event to share insights on how to collect data that includes everyone, regardless of age, sex, disability and other characteristics. The main themes were effective data disaggregation, ensuring that data is owned locally, and integrating data collection into existing roles and services. More about the event

A group of women sing, dance, and clap their hands.

April

The Gambia became the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma, ensuring millions of people will no longer have their sight threatened by the disease. Sightsavers has supported the government of The Gambia since 1986, when a survey found trachoma was the third leading cause of blindness in the country. How we helped to eliminate trachoma in The Gambia

Schoolgirls in Guinea smile and laugh together.

May

Schoolgirls in Guinea smile and laugh together.

Sightsavers called for girls with disabilities to be prioritised in education as part of the G7 Girls’ Education Declaration, which aims to get 40 million more girls into education in low and lower middle income countries by 2026. We called on world leaders to ensure that commitments are met to achieve these bold targets. Read the G7 story

A teacher in Mali points to a sign showing the braille alphabet.

June

More than 21,000 supporters of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign from 119 countries signed an open letter calling on the leaders of the G7 to meet their commitments to inclusive education for children with disabilities, particularly girls, who are often disadvantaged on the grounds of gender as well as disability. Read about the letter

A busy conference chamber at the United Nations.

June

A busy conference chamber at the United Nations.

At the 14th UN disability conference, Sightsavers delivered a video statement calling for disability rights to be upheld in the global pandemic response. In the statement, Sightsavers head of policy Hannah Loryman said: “Exclusion is still built into the systems that affect everyone’s ability to live a fulfilled and independent life, and this is made is even more severe in times of crisis.” Read our statement 

Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame speaking into a microphone.

July

Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Sightsavers’ advocacy adviser for social inclusion, received the World Blind Union Women’s Empowerment Award for her disability work. Presented at the World Blindness Summit, the award is given to blind or partially sighted women who have made an outstanding contribution to empower women. Read about Getty’s award

A man has his eyes checked for signs of trachoma.

July

A man has his eyes checked for signs of trachoma.

The world’s largest surveys into infectious disease reached an important milestone, with Sierra Leone becoming the 50th country to be surveyed for trachoma. The initiative, known as Tropical Data, has examined one person for trachoma every 26 seconds since it began in 2012. Read the news story

A photograph Rasak Adekoya taken in a Sightsavers office

August

Sightsavers’ Rasak Adekoya was named as a One Young World ambassador for his work tackling the inequalities faced by people with disabilities. Rasak is the programme officer for Inclusion Works in Nigeria, which addresses the barriers that prevent millions of people with disabilities from finding mainstream jobs. Read about Rasak’s award

A child drinks water from a cup during a drug administration session in Nigeria.

August

A child drinks water from a cup during a drug administration session in Nigeria.

Sightsavers’ largest neglected tropical disease programme, Ascend, drew to a close. During its two years, the programme made great progress in the fight to eliminate diseases such as trachoma and river blindness in West and Central Africa. More on Ascend

A group of smiling people hold signs that say Equal UN Mali.

September

After years of advocacy work through Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, Mali passed a new law that protects the rights of people with disabilities, so they can claim their rights and access employment, education and social benefits equally. About Mali’s disability rights law

Two Sightsavers staff members in Cameroon, standing outside discussing their work.

September

Two Sightsavers staff members in Cameroon, standing outside discussing their work.

Sightsavers researcher Kareen Atekem (pictured) was recognised for her work on a new project to control and eliminate two neglected tropical diseases. Her project involves developing a new trap for flies that spread a parasitic disease which poses a major barrier to eliminating river blindness. More on Kareen’s award

A collage of images featuring men, women and children wearing glasses.

October

Sightsavers staff, partners and supporters around the world celebrated World Sight Day on 14 October, to help raise awareness of the importance of access to good eye care. Country offices ran free eye screening services and organised awareness events, while our supporters and partners shared key messages on social media. Read our highlights

A school student in a classroom is handed a tablet by a health worker, as other health workers and his classmates look on.

November

A school student in a classroom is handed a tablet by a health worker, as other health workers and his classmates look on.

For the sixth year in a row, charity evaluator GiveWell named Sightsavers as one of its top charities for our deworming programmes. These programmes treat children for schistosomiasis and intestinal worms: parasitic infections that can cause severe illness. Sightsavers and GiveWell

Giving Tuesday logo with text 'Official Partner'.

November

On 30 November, our generous supporters raised more than $90,000 during our Giving Tuesday appeal. Donations made on Giving Tuesday are matched and doubled so that individual gifts go twice as far, helping to protect and restore the sight of many more people. About the appeal

 

November

November also marked the end of the seven-year COUNTDOWN research programme, which focused on several neglected tropical diseases. It encouraged people to speak out about their illnesses and how they would like to be treated, enabling researchers to investigate cost-effective ways to control the diseases. Read the COUNTDOWN story

The Sightsavers accessibility pack box: a white and yellow box with handle, featuring the words 'Accessibility standards and audit pack, produced by Sightsavers'.

December

Sightsavers ended the year on a high by winning a prestigious Zero Project award for our accessibility audit pack. It includes guidance on how to carry out an audit of healthcare facilities, as well as recommendations on accessibility standards and examples of best practice. About the award

What else has Sightsavers achieved in the past year?

Read our news and blogs
Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper smiles alongside two colleagues. She's holding a pen. In the background are some brightly lit skyscrapers.
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Sightsavers pledges at least US$25 million to help beat neglected tropical diseases

The funding, which will be spent between now and 2025, will help to protect millions of people from the harmful effects of NTDs.

June 2022
Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame speaking into a microphone.
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Sightsavers’ Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame re-elected to UN disability committee

Gertrude, who was nominated by the government of Ghana, was elected alongside five other women and will serve on the committee until 2026.

June 2022
A girl wearing a cloth face mask adjusts her glasses to read a vision chart.
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WHO guide aims to help countries tackle global eye care crisis

The guide provides a framework and technical tools to help countries prioritise eye health issues and deliver high-quality, inclusive eye care services.

May 2022