Sightsavers Reports

Ghana waves goodbye to trachoma

In June 2018 Ghana officially became trachoma-free, showing how your kind donations make a real difference

A group of children in Ghana smile and wave at the camera.

Country by country, village by village, person by person: that’s how we’re beating trachoma, and we couldn’t do it without you.

We were overjoyed when on 13 June 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Ghana had eliminated the disease as a public health problem. Ghana is the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve this massive success, and with your continued support we’ll make sure others follow.

Positive proof

Ghana’s breakthrough achievement shows that freeing the world from trachoma is possible, and gives a huge boost to the dedicated medical teams and community volunteers who work so hard to screen and treat people. It’s also further proof that the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy works. SAFE stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements. It tackles the causes and effects of the disease, ensuring countries are able to remain trachoma-free for future generations.

As Ghana drew closer to the finishing line, our community health workers were carrying out the final screenings and treatments in the northern province of Yendi. They travelled door to door, seeking out anyone still needing treatment for trachoma. Their extraordinary efforts ensured that mothers could resume looking after their families, children could go to school and people like Barikisu and Ayishetu could return to work.

Sisters Barikisu and Ayishetu sit outside their home with bandages covering their eyes, following their trachoma operation.
Ayishetu told us: “When they said we could be helped, I was happy and I felt my prayers had been answered.”

Labour of love

Barikisu and Ayishetu are sisters, and they both work as midwives. Sadly, both had eye problems, but didn’t realise they had trachoma. Their deteriorating eyesight was affecting their ability to work and when our health workers found them, the sisters couldn’t see well enough to deliver babies any more. As Ayishetu explained, they were disheartened and unhappy. “It was hard to see the mothers in labour and not be able to help,” Ayishetu told us. “I had difficulty carrying out daily tasks and could only see blurriness.”

Thankfully, our health workers made sure Barikisu and Ayishetu received the sight-saving surgery they needed. These two bright and capable women are now fully back at work, delivering babies and making sure they have a safe and healthy start in life.

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