Sightsavers in Uganda

We work with governments and local organisations in Uganda and countries across Africa to deliver vital charity work and make sure everyone has the chance to thrive.

Uganda is a small, landlocked country in East Africa. It has a diverse landscape with mountains, national parks and waterfalls.

While 90% of people in Uganda can reach a medical centre within an hour, those in rural areas often struggle to access vital health care because they can’t afford transportation. Health services in remote regions generally offer a lower level of care than those in urban areas, leading to health inequalities across the country.

Four neglected tropical diseases that can be treated with preventative medication are endemic in Uganda. Trachoma is particularly prevalent in areas near the border with Kenya, where nomadic populations frequently move between the two countries, highlighting some of the difficulties around reaching everyone.

In 2009, Uganda ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The country’s constitution protects disability rights, and the Ugandan parliament has mandated that people with disabilities are represented at all levels of government. Yet many people with disabilities still struggle to claim their rights, particularly in education, employment and health care.

Facts about Uganda

  • Population: 47 million
  • Capital: Kampala
  • Official language: English
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 166 (low)

3.1 million people in Uganda are thought to have sight loss

1.6 million people need medication for river blindness

6.5% of people in the country are thought to have a disability

Sources: IAPB, ESPEN, Disability Data Portal

Trainee ophthalmologist Moses Iriama stands outside a university eye care centre in Moroto, Uganda.

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

Trainee ophthalmologist Moses Iriama stands outside a university eye care centre in Moroto, Uganda.

Eye care

There are only 40 ophthalmologists in Uganda.

Cataracts and refractive error are the main causes of sight loss in Uganda, with women most affected because they’re often less able to access eye care services. Sightsavers’ charity work in the country is helping to develop a comprehensive and sustainable eye health system that can deliver high-quality, affordable services.

An eye surgeon dressed in green scrubs.

Our eye care work in Uganda

Inclusive eye care

Regular screenings make sure everyone can be checked for eye conditions such as cataracts, and referred for treatment.
How we’re creating inclusive eye health services

Training staff

We support local health authorities to recruit, train and retain eye care workers, helping to fill staffing gaps and ensuring people can be treated more quickly.
Meet ophthalmologist Gladys

Cataract surgery

Sight loss from cataracts can be restored with a straightforward operation that can take less than an hour. With their sight back, patients can return to education and work.
Learn about cataracts

Infectious diseases

People in Uganda are at high risk of disease.

Trachoma and lymphatic filariasis are endemic in Uganda, putting millions of people at risk of blindness and ill health. Our work on neglected tropical diseases in the country focuses on distributing medication and treating people by providing operations, such as hydrocele surgery, to help reduce painful symptoms.

Two men wearing scrubs spray larvicide into a river in Uganda to control river blindness.

How we’re tackling disease in Uganda

Distributing medication

We train local volunteers to give out medicine in their communities and refer people for treatment where needed.
How we reach remote regions

Hygiene and sanitation

Sightsavers runs water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives in local communities to help control the spread of infectious diseases.
Learn about WASH

Managing symptoms

We provide training so patients can manage lymphoedema, a painful swelling in parts of the body caused by lymphatic filariasis.
More on lymphatic filariasis

Inclusion and equality

Not everyone in Uganda can claim their rights.

Women, girls and people with disabilities face stigma and discrimination in society. Our charity work on disability rights in Uganda focuses on improving everyone’s access to health care, education and employment.

Hairdresser Beatrice teaches hair salon intern Irene, who uses a wheelchair.

Our inclusion work in Uganda

Inclusive education

Sightsavers works with local governments, parents and communities in Uganda to help make schools more inclusive for students with disabilities.
Learn about inclusive education

Jobs and training

Our Inclusive Futures initiative brings together partners, businesses and job seekers to offer training and paid internships for people with disabilities.
About Inclusive Futures

Working in partnership

By working with organisations of people with disabilities and our partners, we’re able to ensure our programmes meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Our political participation work

Gladys Atoo in her Doctor's uniform, smiles at the camera

“I’m the only ophthalmologist in Karamoja. Every year, I keep hoping that I’m not still saying this.”

Gladys Atoo in her Doctor's uniform, smiles at the camera
Gladys works on Sightsavers’ inclusive eye care programme in northeast Uganda. Read her story

How you can help

Our charity work in Uganda is helping to make society more inclusive, but there’s still more we need to do.

With your support, we want to strengthen the health system, protect people from disease and create a ripple effect in Uganda, 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 Uganda. 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 Uganda, would like more details about our programmes or wish to discuss ways you can donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Uganda

Dr Gladys walks with a female health worker, all wearing medical scrubs.
Sightsavers stories

“Everyone deserves quality eye care services”

In Uganda, an inclusive eye health programme has helped to protect people’s vision and build a sustainable eye health system that can be accessed by everyone.

Three women discuss gender-based violence at a workshop in Uganda.
Sightsavers blog

Collaborating to improve gender-based violence services

Women and girls with disabilities face a higher risk of gender-based violence, yet they are often prevented from receiving support due to inaccessible services.

Lucy Muchiri, November 2023
An older man smiles as he holds his right hand over his eye during an eye test.
Sightsavers stories

We are… creating inclusive eye health services 

We’re working with governments in Uganda and Malawi to improve access to quality eye care services and prevent avoidable blindness.

Gladys Atto in her doctor's uniform, smiling at the camera.
Sightsavers stories

A day in the life: the only ophthalmologist in Karamoja

“My name is Dr Gladys Atto. I wanted to be a doctor since I was a child, and I am very proud to be an ophthalmologist and have an impact on people’s lives.”

Illustration of student ophthalmologist Dr Hawa Megembe, sitting in a chair with flowers and a framed picture behind her.
Sightsavers stories

A day in the life: “It’s a blessing to have the power to change someone’s life”

Dr Hawa Naiga Magembe is studying ophthalmology in Uganda with the help of a scholarship provided by Sightsavers’ inclusive eye health programme.

The Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda is lit up in purple light for World NTD Day.

World NTD Day 2022: highlights from around the world

On 30 January 2022, Sightsavers staff and supporters joined the global event to raise awareness about eliminating neglected tropical diseases.

February 2022

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work