Before the Trachoma Initiative started in 2014, blinding trachoma was endemic in 39 of 112 districts in Uganda with an estimated 10 million people at risk of the disease. In 2015, The Initiative began working in 17 districts in the Busoga and Karamoja regions of the country. Many of these communities are very remote, others have nomadic populations, from the northern region of Karamoja, who move across borders with South Sudan and Kenya.
Watch the video below to find out more about our work with the Karamojong tribe in Northern Uganda.
In 2016/17 we expanded our work to a further 14 districts, reaching people in all endemic districts in Uganda.
What we’re doing about it
We’re working with communities, the Ugandan Ministry of Health and a network of partners to make significant progress towards eliminating trachoma in Uganda by the end of 2019.
The Initiative is training surgeons to perform trichiasis surgery for the advanced and sight-threatening stages of trachoma. Together these surgeons are reaching tens of thousands of people to relieve the agony of advanced trachoma. We are also delivering behaviour change interventions, to encourage improvement in sanitation and hygiene to reduce the spread of infection.
Health workers in local communities are also receiving tools and training to raise awareness about the surgical services available to assist those in need of treatment and to help support the country to manage trachoma in the long-term.
Progress so far
Before the Initiative began in 2014, 10 million people in Uganda were at risk of losing their sight to trachoma. Thanks to the efforts of partners and the Trachoma Initiative, working in tandem with other programmes, the Ministry of Health now estimates that less than 300,000 people are at risk of getting the disease.
We began our work in Uganda by training and certifying 68 surgeons to correct the in-turned eyelashes of people with trichiasis. We have also trained more than 8,200 case finders to locate people in need of treatment, which has helped reduce the time surgeons spend screening patients at outreach camps. This has enabled us to treat more than 27,600 people who needed pain-relieving and potentially sight-saving surgery.
Over 10,255 hand and face washing stations have been constructed next to latrines to reduce the spread of infection. And over 50 schools now run WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) club activities to empower children to develop healthy behaviours to protect them from trachoma throughout their lives.
We were delighted that in February 2018, Lord Chartres the former bishop of London and our trustee visited Uganda to see first-hand the progress being made. Read the story