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The Trust’s Trachoma Initiative starts work in Tanzania
© Peter Nicholls / Sightsavers

The Trust’s Trachoma Initiative starts work in Tanzania

The Trust is delighted that, thanks to generous donations by the Conrad N Hilton Foundation and the END Fund, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative is able to extend its work towards the elimination of blinding trachoma in Tanzania.

Between 2014 and 2019, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative (the Trachoma Initiative) plans to eliminate blinding trachoma as a public health problem in Kenya and Malawi and make significant advances towards elimination in Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, and now Tanzania. It will also tackle the disease in Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and Australia. The Initiative is based on a large-scale programme of surgery, antibiotic distribution, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement initiatives, known as the SAFE Strategy.

About 229 million people live in trachoma endemic districts globally. The disease slowly and painfully robs people of their sight, as repeated infection turns eyelashes inwards, scraping the cornea and eventually causing irreversible blindness. Blinding trachoma has a devastating personal and economic impact on the people affected and their families. Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop blinding trachoma.

Working with members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, and coordinated in-country by Helen Keller International, the Trachoma Initiative will provide trichiasis surgery to all those with advanced stages of the disease in the Lindi, Dodoma and Arusha regions of Tanzania – approximately 26,000 people.

The work of the Trachoma Initiative is supporting the Tanzanian government’s aim of total elimination of trachoma by 2020.

Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE, Chief Executive of the Trust, said

I am delighted that the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is able to begin work towards eliminating this painful and completely avoidable cause of blindness in Tanzania. Africa holds over 65% of the burden of trachoma, and thanks to the hard work of members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control we are making significant steps towards its elimination in six Commonwealth countries in the continent. By working in alliance with partners like the Conrad N Hilton Foundation and the END Fund, we can rid the Commonwealth and the world of this ancient disease.