Eliminating trachoma: our progress so far

With continued support and investment, we can make history as the generation that eliminates trachoma as a public health problem around the world.

School students from Malawi smile and dance outside in the sunshine.

Trachoma is a painful eye disease that has plagued humanity for thousands of years, destroying lives and trapping people in poverty. But it can be treated, cured and prevented from recurring.

Since 2018, our Accelerate programme has protected 14 million people from trachoma. We’ve also helped Ghana, The GambiaMalawi, Benin and Mali to eliminate the disease. However, while 17 countries around the world have beaten trachoma, there are still another 40 where it’s counted as a public health problem. This means that more than 115 million people are still at risk.

We’re working to eliminate trachoma in many of its remaining strongholds by helping governments to distribute medication, train health workers and perform sight-saving operations. The impact goes far beyond individual people.

Banishing the disease ensures children can go to school and fulfil their potential. It reduces the burden of care on women, who are almost twice as likely to go blind from the disease than men. And it ensures adults can earn an income to support their families, helping to improve the economy.

All of this takes us closer to achieving universal health coverage, fulfilling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and creating a more equal world.

Our CEO’s TED talk boosted elimination progress

Read her blog
Adou smiles outside his home.


Elimination: May 2023
Benin was able to banish the disease with support from the Accelerate programme, led by Sightsavers and funded by high-profile international donors. Pelagie Boko-Collins, Sightsavers’ NTD lead in Benin, said: “Eliminating a disease on this scale is a massive achievement for our country. Today, 3.4 million people in Benin are no longer at risk of losing their sight to this agonising disease.”

Read the news story | Hear stories of the people involved

An eye doctor checks a woman's eyes for signs of trachoma.


Elimination: May 2023
In Mali, Sightsavers worked closely with Helen Keller Intl and The Carter Center to tackle trachoma. Sightsavers’ country director in Mali, Boubacar Morou Dicko, said: “This will have a huge impact for people in Mali. It will have a ripple effect on our society in so many ways.”

Read the news story | Blog: How Mali beat trachoma

A large group of school students in Malawi. They're wearing bright blue uniforms and are gathered outside, smiling and cheering.


Elimination: September 2022
Malawi was the first country in southern Africa to reach elimination. Bright Chiwaula, Sightsavers’ Malawi country director, said: “Eliminating a disease on this scale is a massive achievement for our country. Thanks to hard work, commitment and collaboration, 9.5 million people are no longer at risk of losing their sight.”

Read the news story | Our letters from Malawi | Watch our video

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

The Gambia

Elimination: April 2021
Sightsavers has supported the government of The Gambia to improve eye health since 1986, when a survey found that trachoma was the third leading cause of blindness in the country. The Gambia Trachoma Elimination Programme was born, which enabled government officials, health workers and communities to collaborate to reach this milestone.

Read the news story | Follow The Gambia’s journey

A group of children are waving and smiling at the camera.


Elimination: June 2018
Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa and the Commonwealth to eliminate the disease. Sightsavers director of NTDs Simon Bush said: “Through collaboration, determination and sheer hard work, Ghana has eliminated a painful eye disease that has devastated the lives of millions of the most vulnerable people.”

How is trachoma treated?

A child in Senegal holds antibiotic tablets in his hand.


Antibiotic tablets, donated by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, are used to treat the trachoma infection. This treatment is usually repeated annually for up to five years.

A group of surgeons in a hospital setting performing an operation.


Advanced trachoma (known as trichiasis) can cause the eyelashes to turn inwards. An operation stops the eyelashes rubbing against the eyeball, and can stop people going blind.

A boy washes his face to prevent the spread of trachoma infection.

Cleanliness and hygiene

Communities are encouraged to change the behaviour that can put them at risk of trachoma, and are taught about the importance of face washing, hygiene and sanitation.

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Learn more about trachoma, and how we’re tackling it

What is trachoma?
Former trachoma patient Achiwa smiles.

“My life is restored! Now I can see, I am able to work again.”

Former trachoma patient Achiwa smiles.
Hear first-hand how life has transformed for patients like Achiwa now that trachoma has been eliminated in Malawi. Read our letters from Malawi

Donate today to help us banish trachoma for good