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Our work in Zambia

Sightsavers is working towards eliminating blinding trachoma in Zambia. In 2019, we distributed more than 180,000 treatments to help control the spread of the disease.

Five young children sitting in a line and holding hands while smiling at each other

Two-thirds of Zambia’s population live in poverty, and it’s thought that one in 10 people has some form of visual impairment.

More than 2.6 million people live in areas affected by trachoma. This infectious disease starts out like conjunctivitis, but if it’s not treated it causes scarring to the eyelid that makes the eyelashes turn inward, so with every blink they scrape against the eye. We’re working to eliminate the disease in Zambia by distributing medication, providing eye surgery and educating communities about the importance of good hygiene.

Our work in the country also involves making sure eye health services are available for everyone, particularly marginalised groups such as women and people with disabilities. By preventing blindness, we ensure that people can continue to take care of their families, support themselves and earn a living.

We’ve carried out research into gender and eye health in Zambia to find out how eye problems affect men and women differently, and to learn how we can address these issues. Read our report on gender and eye health in Zambia (pdf)

At a glance

Total population
  • 17.6 million

  • What we focus on
  • Trachoma
  • Cataracts

  • Key programmes
  • Tropical Data Project
  • Cataract surgery

  • Previous programmes
  • CATCH
  • SAFE: trachoma control
  • The Trachoma Initiative
  • Our eye health work in Zambia is vital: it is reaching a lot of women, children and people with disabilities.
    Glenda Mulenga, Zambia country director
    Sightsavers Zambia country director Glenda Mulenga.

    How we’re making a difference in Zambia

    Dr Ndalela, an ophthalmologist, from Senanga District Hospital.

    Reaching remote areas

    Mr Ndalela is the only eye surgeon in Senanga who can carry out tricky procedures. He’s able to build close relationships within the community.
    Read Mr Ndalela’s story

    Namukolo in her village.

    Fighting disease

    Namukolo had trachoma, and her eyes were causing her immense pain. After treatment, the pain is gone and she can return to school with her friends.
    Read Namukolo’s story

    Inuto Mweemba assisting Dr Tesfaye Adera with eye tests.

    Training health workers

    Sightsavers' Alistair Burnett visited a hospital in southern Zambia to learn how six weeks of training for health staff can improve eye care for all.
    Read Alistair’s trip report

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