The Accelerate Programme

The Accelerate trachoma elimination programme aims to support at least nine countries to eliminate trachoma as a public health risk, and speed up progress in several others by 2023.

Khady, 8, from Senegal is measured for her treatment

Sightsavers has embarked on a remarkable journey with some of the most trusted names in modern philanthropy, in a bid to eliminate an ancient and blinding disease.

It began as part of The Audacious Project, hosted by TED, to turn transformative ideas into action. Motivated by our long-standing partner Virgin Unite, we pitched the audacious idea of eliminating blinding trachoma, to inspire donors to come together to end an ancient disease that is depicted in the hieroglyphs on ancient Nubian tombs.

As a result, a $105 million fund was launched to accelerate the end of trachoma. It was announced by Richard Branson, via recorded video link, at the high-profile Global Citizen concert in Johannesburg on 2 December 2018.

We’re extremely grateful to all donors involved in the Accelerate programme. These include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, UK aid and Virgin Unite. The Accelerate Programme builds on the announcement UK aid made in April 2018 to boost elimination efforts through the Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund.

Watch the video below to learn about the history of trachoma.


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

What the programme achieved in 2019

Accelerate made great progress in its first 12 months, with work including trachoma surveys in several countries, plus treatment activity and staff training.

Read the highlights

What does Accelerate hope to achieve?

This programme, running until 2023, aims to eliminate trachoma in at least nine African countries, make significant progress in several others, and build on ground-breaking research into the link between the antibiotic used to treat trachoma and a reduction in childhood mortality. Sightsavers and our partners will also work alongside endemic countries to help strengthen healthcare systems so progress continues in the long-term.

Which countries are involved?
Accelerate aims to eliminate trachoma as a public health risk in Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Namibia, Senegal, and Tanzania. It also aims to make progress towards trachoma elimination in Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Global progress
Thanks to the work of endemic countries and the support of individuals, families and organisations such as USAID, The END Fund, Conrad Hilton Foundation and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, since 2002 the number of people at risk of trachoma has dropped by 91%.

It is now within our grasp to make history by ridding the world of this painful disease. But more funding and support is needed to finish the work we’ve started.

$105 million
has been given by Accelerate donors so far, but we need more
A man smiles, wearing a yellow Sightsavers tshirt.

An Accelerate case study: Givemore’s story

Ophthalmic nurse Givemore travels to remote communities in Zimbabwe to examine people for signs of blinding trachoma. He wants to make sure everyone is treated so their sight can be saved.

Read his story

More about the programme

Caroline Harper speaks at TED2018.

Sightsavers CEO gives TED Talk outlining plan to eliminate trachoma

During her talk in Vancouver on 11 April, Caroline Harper urged philanthropists to support a new project that could help to eliminate the disease.

April 2018
A woman lies with her eye open while a health worker puts eye drops into her eye.

Bill and Melinda Gates: trachoma and river blindness will be eliminated by 2030

Bill and Melinda Gates have said that by 2030, diseases including trachoma and river blindness will be consigned to the history books.

January 2015
A five-year-old girl in Ethiopia has her eyes checked for trachoma.
Sightsavers blog

What if we eliminated one of the world’s oldest diseases?

Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper says we could be just years away from one of the greatest achievements in human health: ridding the world of trachoma.

Caroline Harper, April 2018