Charity has end of blinding disease in its sights

The international charity, Sightsavers, has just launched an ambitious appeal to raise money to fund the final push to eliminate the blinding eye disease, trachoma.

Sightsavers’ ‘The End is in Sight’ appeal is being backed by the UK government’s UK Aid Match programme which will double any donations made in the next three months.

Trachoma is an agonising, debilitating disease that traps people in a vicious cycle of pain, blindness and poverty. It stops children from playing with their friends and going to school. It stops adults from working, looking after their families and being a productive part of their communities. Yet trachoma is totally preventable.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“It costs just 15p to treat a person infected with trachoma – which could stop them becoming blind. Yet across Tanzania, some of the country’s most vulnerable people are still living with this preventable disease.”

“Sightsavers is committed to eliminating trachoma by 2025, and through UK Aid Match, the government and the great British public are part of this vital work by backing the appeal.

“UK aid will double every pound the public donate to this campaign, meaning that their generosity will go twice as far.”

Sightsavers has been fighting the disease for many years and now, at last, the end is in sight. Along with a team of international organisations and governments, the charity aims to eliminate the disease by 2025.

Sightsavers-supported surgeons visit isolated communities, screen villagers for trachoma and provide sight-saving surgery to those who need it. Sightsavers also works with community volunteers who distribute the antibiotics that will help eventually to wipe this cruel disease off the map.

Two-year-old Nalukena, who lives in rural Zambia, had been infected with trachoma since she was born, and it was clear she was in a lot of distress. Her parents knew she was in pain, but they had no idea why.

After Nalukena received her treatment, her father, Likwathi, said:

“If we wipe out trachoma, the nation will benefit, because it will have an educated generation who can go to school and then go to work. I would like my daughter to be a doctor.”

The matched funding from UKaid will go towards the elimination of trachoma in Tanzania and will have a transformational effect on the lives of some of the most marginalised people in the country.

This new project will work to save and protect people’s sight. Through working with communities at the local health facility level, Sightsavers hopes to create positive and lasting change to eye health outcomes. The focus of this project will specifically target and involve people with disabilities, women and older people.

Those who have their sight saved will be able to return to their day-to-day activities including employment, farming, childcare and social activities, which will help to secure their income and lead to an improvement in family and community life.

Dr Caroline Harper, Chief Executive of Sightsavers, said:

“It is now within our grasp to be part of history and stop trachoma in its tracks. This persistent disease blights the world’s poorest communities and traps people into lives of intense pain. It can turn eyelashes inwards so that with every blink they scrape against the ball of the eye, slowly and torturously turning people blind. Yet it is treatable and preventable. Everyone who donates to Sightsavers’ End is in Sight appeal could help us get one step closer to consigning this awful disease to the history books.”

The trachoma infection can be treated with antibiotics, at a cost of as little as 15p per treatment. A straight-forward operation to treat the advanced stages of the disease costs just £44.

Donations to the appeal made between 15 February – 15 May will be doubled by the UK government. Donations will be used to support Sightsavers’ work wherever the need is greatest. The matched funds raised through UK Aid Match will support projects in Tanzania.

Visit to donate or find out more.