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The Trachoma Initiative

This five-year programme, funded by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, provided 26.6 million antibiotic eye treatments and 102,400 sight-saving operations to help eliminate trachoma in seven countries.

An eye health worker in Malawi checks a woman's eyes for signs of trachoma.

What we’ve learned from the Trachoma Initiative

Read the report (pdf)

How did the programme work?

The Trachoma Initiative, which began in 2014,  has supported ministries of health to fight trachoma by following the SAFE strategy, a four-pronged approach approved by the World Health Organization.

The SAFE acronym stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements: this has proven to be the most effective way of ridding communities of trachoma.

The programme ran in seven African countries: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

A key part of the programme has been making sure local health care providers have the skills, resources and staff to prevent trachoma, now and in the future, so they can respond to cases should new outbreaks occur.

A close-up of a school student washing her hands using water running from a tap in a large water butt.

SAFE: a strategy to control trachoma

This public health approach covers four methods used to stop the spread of the disease.

More about SAFE

What did the programme achieve?

Two nurses and a surgeon are working on a patient.

Training eye health staff

The Trachoma Initiative has trained local health workers to improve their skills. Surgeons have received training and certification, while case finders have learned to diagnose trachoma.

A close-up of a man holding some paperwork.

Developing expertise

The programme has developed new approaches that can be used in future to ensure the SAFE strategy continues to be effective, and the impact will be felt long after the programme ends.

An eye health worker examines a woman's eyes to check for signs of trachoma.

Progress against NTDs

All countries who took part have made strides towards eliminating trachoma. Malawi is in a two-year surveillance period, after which WHO will confirm it has eliminated the disease.

How the initiative has changed lives

Dr Ndalela examines a child's eyes for signs of trachoma.
Dr Ndalela has been trained as part of the programme, and now travels across Zambia by motorbike to treat people in remote communities who have no access to healthcare.

Looking to the future

Many countries are working towards eliminating trachoma, but sustained, high-quality programmes are needed to enable them to achieve this.

The insight provided by the Trachoma Initiative is helping us to understand what works when it comes to tackling the disease, and will be a vital source of information as countries continue on the path towards trachoma elimination.

This video explains more about the work of the Trachoma Initiative.

You can help our life-changing work to continue

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Which organisations were involved?

Sightsavers coordinated the initiative on behalf of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, collaborating with ministries of health, affected communities, the UK aid-funded DFID SAFE programme (in Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia) and a network of other partners and programmes.

Implementing partners include ITI, The Fred Hollows Foundation, WaterAid, RTI International, Operation Eyesight, Light for The World, John Hopkins, Helen Keller International, CBM, The Carter Center, AMREF and KCCO.

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust was a time-limited charitable foundation, which was established in 2012 to mark and celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In January 2020, the Trust successfully completed its programmes and ceased operating as a grant-making organisation.

A child in Senegal holds antibiotic tablets in his hand.

More about trachoma

A female community drug distributor measures a girl to see how much medication she needs to protect her from trachoma.
Sightsavers stories

“Our programme has transformed communities”

Now in its sixth year, the Accelerate programme has already delivered 53 million treatments to protect people from trachoma, and managed 91,000 advanced cases of the disease.

Eye care staff perform trachoma surveys on children in Cote D'Ivoire.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers’ Accelerate programme gets US$36.5 million funding boost to banish trachoma

The extra funding from international donors will help speed up the elimination of trachoma in Africa by expanding and extending the programme.

March 2024
Dr Ndalela examines a boy's eyes and applies ointment to ease the symptoms of trachoma.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers awarded grant to help eliminate trachoma in Zambia

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has given a grant of US$2.19 million to help fight the disease.

January 2024

Your donation will change lives

I would like to make a donation:

a month could pay for a classroom of children to be screened for a range of eye conditions.

a month could pay for antibiotics to protect a community of people against the pain of trachoma.

a month could pay for an operation for someone with trichiasis, the advanced form of trachoma.

£
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is £2
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over £10,000

could pay for a classroom of children to be screened for a range of eye conditions.

could pay for antibiotics to protect a community of people against the pain of trachoma.

could pay for an operation for someone with trichiasis, the advanced form of trachoma.

£
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is £2
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over £10,000