The Accelerate programme

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

A young boy is measured against a dose pole.

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 trachoma as a public health problem, 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 fund worth over $100 million 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.


What does Accelerate hope to achieve?

This programme, running until 2023, aims to eliminate trachoma in at least eight 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 and Senegal. It also aims to make progress towards trachoma elimination in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Global progress

Thanks to the work of endemic countries and the support of individuals, families and organisations such as UK aid, Accelerate donors, USAID, The END Fund, Conrad N. 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.

More than $100m
has been given by Accelerate donors
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

two surgeons work on a patient.

Thousands of people in Africa get sight-saving surgery

In three years, Sightsavers’ Accelerate programme has supported governments in 12 countries to provide eye surgery to 37,000 people.

June 2021
A man wearing magnifying glasses over his eyes shines a torch into a toddler's eye during a trachoma survey.
Sightsavers blog

Is data integration the answer to eliminating trachoma in Ethiopia?

Biruck Kebede, who leads Sightsavers’ NTD work in Ethiopia, explains how data can help to eliminate diseases such as trachoma.

Biruck Kebede, December 2020
A man wearing a protective mask presents in front of a blackboard next to a dose poleivers training to antibiotics distributers in a classroom at Government Day Secondary School, Jigawa State

Accelerate: the story of 2020

The Accelerate programme has reached the end of a year like no other. Through a global pandemic, we’ve innovated and adapted our trachoma work to keep on track.

December 2020