Our work in The Gambia

In The Gambia, Sightsavers’ work has focused on eliminating trachoma, an infectious disease that can cause immense pain and blindness.

Past trichiasis patient Sarjo sits outside with her arm around her husband Al

Sightsavers has been working with The Gambia’s ministry of health and social welfare to control and eliminate trachoma.

In April 2021, The Gambia became the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma, as confirmed by the World Health Organization, ensuring that millions of people will no longer have their sight threatened by this potentially blinding disease. Trachoma has already been eliminated in Ghana, as validated by WHO in June 2018.

We helped to achieve this milestone by treating people with advanced stages of the disease, often through surgery, and monitoring active cases of trachoma across the country. We also helped to distribute antibiotics to protect against the disease.

Sightsavers also aims to increase the number of people trained to diagnose and treat refractive error.  We have provided spectacles for those who need them, and helped to set up a new vision centre in the country, which we publicised through radio shows, billboards and posters.

In previous years we’ve also helped to diagnose and treat cataracts in The Gambia, providing sight-saving surgery to restore people’s vision.

At a glance

Total population
  • 2.1 million

  • What we focus on
  • Refractive error
  • Trachoma
  • Community volunteer shows students how to wash their faces.

    The Gambia’s journey to trachoma elimination

    In April 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that The Gambia has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. Here, four people tell their stories about reaching this life-changing milestone.

    Read the story
    A male trachoma patient sitting outside, smiling.

    How we’re making a difference

    Yaya caught trachoma four years ago. As his sight deteriorated, he suffered constant pain and was unable to fulfil his duties as head of the village. But thanks to a straightforward operation, the pain is gone and he is once again leading his community. Read Yaya’s story

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    The Gambia has become the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate the potentially blinding disease, as confirmed by the World Health Organization.

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    Where we work