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Commonwealth Fund

This programme funds surgery, treatment distribution and improved hygiene and sanitation practices in 10 Commonwealth countries where trachoma is endemic.

School children in Tanzania smile for the camera.

Eliminating Blinding Trachoma in the Commonwealth

In April 2018, leaders of 53 countries gathered in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). They agreed to take action to ensure all citizens in trachoma-endemic countries in the Commonwealth can get the eye care they need.

Between 2018 and 2020, the UK government, funded by UK aid, will contribute towards eliminating blinding trachoma in 10 Commonwealth countries; Kenya, Kiribati, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

44
countries count trachoma as a public health problem
21
of these countries are in the Commonwealth
52 million
people live in areas needing treatment or health improvement
A group of primary school children hold tubes of ointment in the air.
Children at a school in Tanzania after being given eye ointment to protect them against trachoma.

What does it aim to achieve?

The programme will accelerate progress to eventually eliminate trachoma in 10 Commonwealth countries.

  • More than 6.6 million people will be treated with antibiotics for trachoma
  • Up to 60,000 people with trichiasis will receive surgery or other intervention
  • More than 11,000 local people will be trained as volunteers to distribute medication
  • Crucial trachoma data will be collected through more than 130 surveys
  • Healthy hygiene and sanitation practices will be promoted among communities at risk of trachoma

The Commonwealth programme follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) treatment strategy for trachoma elimination. This involves an integrated approach to treatment through the SAFE strategy, a public health approach to control the spread of trachoma. The acronym stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvements.

As part of the strategy, validation dossiers will be prepared and submitted to WHO, where relevant. This is a national report to validate elimination, and a standard part of elimination procedures.

Sightsavers will also continue to carry out baseline mapping, to understand the spread of trachoma and how to tackle it.

A young student has her eyes checked for trachoma.
A student at Mandarawe School in southern Tanzania is screened for trachoma. All images © Sightsavers/Jason J Mulikita

Who runs the programme?

Sightsavers is grant manager of the programme, meaning we will allocate funds according to the needs identified by disease mapping. We’re working alongside local partners and country authorities to implement the programme in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

The Fred Hollows Foundation will implement it in the Pacific and Pakistan.

In the long-term, the programme aims to improve eye health and access to quality eye care services in trachoma-endemic areas.

The End is in Sight: help us to eliminate trachoma

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