Sightsavers in Tanzania

We work with governments and local organisations in Tanzania and countries across Africa to deliver vital charity work and make sure everyone can access health care.

Tanzania is a large country in East Africa known for Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Health care in the country is mainly provided by the government, which is making progress towards universal health coverage. Yet many Tanzanians struggle to access adequate services due to a shortage of health care staff, medical equipment and essential medicines.

Five neglected tropical diseases are endemic in the country, meaning a large proportion of the population is at risk. But there are positive signs in the fight against these diseases after successful treatment campaigns to control lymphatic filariasis and trachoma.

Tanzania has taken steps to improve the rights of people with disabilities. In 1969, a team from Sightsavers (then known as the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, accompanied by seven blind men from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The aim was to encourage blind children to go to school by demonstrating what they can achieve, and marked Sightsavers’ first inclusive education project.

Tanzania launched its Disability Act in 2010. Despite this, children with disabilities are still less likely to go to school, and women with disabilities face additional barriers when accessing opportunities and health care services.

Facts about Tanzania

  • Population: 65 million
  • Capital: Dodoma
  • Official languages: Kiswahili, Swahili and English
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 160 (low)

Tanzania has only 69 ophthalmologists (less than one for every million people)

Five neglected tropical diseases are endemic in the country

12% of people are thought to have a disability

Sources: IAPB, Journal of Global Health, Disability Data Portal

A dramatic Tanzanian landscape showing a red, dusty road stretching away into the distance, with greenery and mountains on the horizon.

What are the challenges in Tanzania, and how can these be addressed?

A dramatic Tanzanian landscape showing a red, dusty road stretching away into the distance, with greenery and mountains on the horizon.

Eye care

Eye health services are difficult to access in rural areas.

Many people living in remote areas struggle to access eye care due to a lack of qualified staff and specialist hospitals. Sightsavers’ charity work in Tanzania aims to improve the country’s eye health system to make it more sustainable.

Upendo talks to a patient during an eye test.

Our eye care work in Tanzania

Free eye screening

Regular screening can check people for eye conditions and refer them for treatment where needed.
How the Boresha Macho project is reaching remote communities

Training staff

Recruiting and training eye care workers helps to fill staffing gaps in the national eye care service.
Meet Tanzania’s newly qualified ophthalmic assistants

Community outreach

We work with community leaders and volunteers to increase understanding about eye conditions and treatments.
What are community volunteers?

Infectious diseases

Tanzanians are at high risk of blindness and disability from infectious diseases.

Five neglected tropical diseases that can be treated with preventative medication are endemic in Tanzania. Our charity work in the country focuses on treating and preventing trachoma so the disease can be eliminated as a public health issue.

Medical supplies, ointment to treat trachoma.

How we’re tackling disease in Tanzania

Treatment campaigns

We work with our partners to deliver medication to communities across the country, to help treat and prevent trachoma.
What is mass drug administration?

Improving hygiene

Good hygiene and sanitation can reduce the spread of infectious diseases, helping communities eliminate them.
How hygiene can prevent disease


Monitoring and collecting data about the spread of disease helps us learn where to target our treatment campaigns.
About our in-house research

Inclusion and equality

Not all Tanzanians can claim their human rights.

People with disabilities aren’t treated equally in society, and women with disabilities face additional barriers. Our charity work on disability rights in Tanzania focuses on ensuring everyone can access opportunities equally.

OPD leader Sarah sits in her wheelchair at her home in Singida.

Our inclusion work in Tanzania

Inclusive education

We work with local governments to make schools more inclusive for students with disabilities so everyone can get an education. Why is inclusive education vital?

Training and work

Our Inclusion Futures initiative joins partners and businesses to offer training and paid internships for people with disabilities.
About Inclusive Futures

Working in partnership

By working with local disability organisations, we’re able to pool our expertise and ensure people with disabilities are included.
Our disability rights work

Eye surgeon Upendo smiles while standing outside Singida Referral Hospital.

“My greatest achievement is that I have helped so many people here in Singida. They could not see, now I have operated on them so they can see.”

Eye surgeon Upendo smiles while standing outside Singida Referral Hospital.
Upendo, an assistant doctor from Singida Referral Hospital

How you can help

Our charity work in Tanzania is helping to eliminate trachoma, but there’s still more we need to do.

With your support, we want to strengthen the national eye health system, protect people from disease and create a ripple effect in Tanzania, so everyone can learn, earn and thrive. To do this, we need your help.

Charity donations, legacies, corporate partnerships and gifts from charitable foundations are a vital source of funding for our programmes in Tanzania. We also welcome opportunities to work in partnership with governments, institutions and development organisations.

Contact us: If you have any questions about our work in Tanzania, would like more details about our programmes or wish to discuss ways you can donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Tanzania

Upendo talks to a patient during an eye test.
Sightsavers from the field

The Boresha Macho project: improving vision in Tanzania

In Singida, an inclusive eye health programme has made eye care services more affordable, sustainable and equitable. Here, four people involved with the project share their stories.

March 2023
Amina smiles as she covers one of her eyes with her hand.
Sightsavers blog

Lessons from the Boresha Macho eye health programme in Tanzania

Sightsavers’ Edwin Maleko shares the impact of an inclusive eye health programme on communities and eye care services in Singida and Morogoro.

Edwin Maleko, March 2023
Amina covers one eye with her hand and smiles after cataract surgery.
Sightsavers blog

“Many people who would have gone blind have had their sight restored”

Project coordinator Magdalena Focus talks about the challenges and successes of the community inclusive eye health project in Tanzania in 2020.

Magdalena Focus, February 2021
A group of children stand near an eye chart,.
Sightsavers from the field

A bright future: saving sight in Tanzania

Across Tanzania, six newly qualified ophthalmic assistants are putting their skills to work supporting remote eye screening camps and testing sight in local hospitals.

February 2021
A group of surgeons wearing PPE perform eye surgery.
Sightsavers from the field

January 2021 updates: highlights from around the world

In Côte d’Ivoire, eye health staff have been working to ensure eye surgery is COVID-safe. Plus news from Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Ghana and more

January 2021
Text logo reading Vision Excellence Awards - Vision 2020 The Right to Sight

Three Sightsavers nominees win Vision Excellence awards

Three Sightsavers nominees from Tanzania have received recognition in the 2020 IAPB Vision Excellence awards.

January 2021
Sightsavers from the field

How one project touched 34 million lives

As the 17-year-long Seeing is Believing project comes to an end, Imran Khan goes behind the scenes to reveal why it has made such an impact.

December 2020
Four-year-old Paolo stands smiling in a doorway.
Sightsavers Reports

Paolo's story

Paolo's family could not understand why he kept having problems with his eyes. Thankfully, training for a Sightsavers-supported programme was taking place nearby.

A boy washes his face at a well.
Sightsavers from the field

July 2020 updates: highlights from around the world

A young boy has his sight restored in Nigeria, plus news from Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania and Ghana.

July 2020

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work