Left Menu
Development News Edition

UK aid to help eliminate the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness

International Development Secretary announces new funding to 10 Commonwealth countries to tackle trachoma.

Government Press Release | Updated: 16-04-2018 14:10 IST | Created: 16-04-2018 14:09 IST
UK aid to help eliminate the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness
To help eliminate the disease, UK aid will provide additional support to 10 Commonwealth countries over the next two years. (Image Credit: Flickr)

Millions of people across the Commonwealth will be free of blinding trachoma as the UK steps up its support to tackle this ancient and avoidable disease, the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt will announce today.

Trachoma, a bacterial infection that can lead to permanent loss of sight, affects more than 52 million people across 21 Commonwealth countries. If left untreated, the painful disease, which is the world's main infectious cause of blindness, can cause eyelids to turn inward, or eyelashes to grow towards the eye scratching the cornea.

To help eliminate the disease, UK aid will provide additional support to 10 Commonwealth countries over the next two years, providing antibiotics to millions, surgery and education programmes to teach people how to stop the spread of this infection.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

British research, NGOs and pharmaceutical companies have been at the forefront of the global fight to eliminate blinding trachoma that causes debilitating pain for its victims.

UK aid has already made a huge difference to vulnerable people in countries including Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda, freeing families trapped in a cycle of poverty as the disease passes from one generation to the next. In Malawi for example, four years ago eight million people were at risk of trachoma and now no-one is.

This further commitment will mean millions of people across the Commonwealth will receive vital sight-saving treatment and we will be on course to eliminate this ancient and avoidable disease.

This new package of UK support will:

  • Enable our partners to map out where the disease remains in 138 districts in Tanzania, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Kenya;
  • Help Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru work with the World Health Organisation to confirm they have eliminated trachoma;
  • Provide 76,000 people with surgery in Kenya, to prevent blindness and end the pain trachoma causes, and eliminate the disease as a public health problem by 2020; and
  • Help Pakistan, Tanzania, and Papua New Guinea get nearer to elimination as millions receive sight-saving treatment.

Today's support is part of the UK's £360 million commitment made in April 2017 to provide a billion treatments for people at risk of neglected tropical diseases like trachoma and guinea worm. Neglected tropical diseases affect over a billion people in the poorest and most marginalized communities in the world, stopping children going to school and parents going to work - costing developing economies billions of dollars every year in lost productivity and reducing overall global prosperity.

The International Development Secretary will highlight the results of UK aid at an event this evening organised by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (QEDJT) to celebrate work to eliminate trachoma across the Commonwealth.

Dr. Astrid Bonfield CBE, chief executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, said:

At the Trust, thanks to supporting from DFID and our partners from across the Commonwealth, we have seen how the elimination of trachoma transforms lives for the better.

It is wonderful news that more citizens, communities, and countries across the Commonwealth can now look forward to a future free of the scourge of this ancient, painful, blinding disease.

Through our partners, Sightsavers and the QEDJT, UK aid has made huge progress in fighting avoidable blindness. UK aid has helped to train more than 10,000 people to look for the final trachoma cases around the world. These trained specialists have provided crucial advice to those affected by the disease, helping them to get surgery and teach them on how to stop the spread of the infection itself.

Dr Caroline Harper CBE, CEO of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind – more commonly known as Sightsavers – welcomed the announcement:

Blinding trachoma is a horribly painful disease that has devastating effects on the people it affects and their communities.

This new investment the Commonwealth 2018-20 Fund will help us make huge strides towards eliminating this ancient scourge from the Commonwealth and will also encourage other donors to step forward."



Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Rwanda’s COVID-19 response commendable but health information system needs improvement

Rwanda is consistently working to improve its health information system from many years. However, it is primarily dependent on the collection and reporting of health data on a monthly basis. Besides, evaluation studies on Rwandas HIS publis...


Latest News

FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of coronavirus

The death toll from the spread of the coronavirus in the United States approached over 200,000 and European countries mulled tightening restrictions to curb a sharp resurgence in cases, while global stocks hit their lowest in seven weeks on...

Wood, metal, paper and fabric can help cut climate-harming plastics

Replacing plastics used in buildings with metal, wood, ceramics and glass, turning to paper and fabric for packaging, and boosting recycling rates could slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, researchers said on Monday.A mix...

Trump tax return subpoena justified by 'mountainous' allegations -Manhattan prosecutor

Manhattans district attorney on Monday said the mountainous allegations of misconduct linked to U.S. President Donald Trump and his businesses justified enforcing a subpoena for his tax returns and other financial records. Lawyers for Distr...

Private equity executive pleads guilty in U.S. college admissions scandal

An insurance and private equity executive pleaded guilty on Monday to participating in a vast U.S. college admissions fraud and bribery scheme in which he agreed to pay 40,000 to rig his daughters ACT college entrance exam.Mark Hauser, 59, ...

Give Feedback