The final push

We’re so close to eliminating trachoma in Zimbabwe. If we want to help more children like Enjoyed, we can’t stop now.

Searching for trachoma in Zimbabwe

Over a period of four years, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and a team from Sightsavers travelled across the country to conduct trachoma disease surveys. The country consists of 63 districts and we found that 21 of them were endemic with trachoma.

One region that particularly stood out for us was the Binga district, where more than 10% of the population were infected with the contagious disease.

Over 154,000
people live in the Binga district
Over 10%
were infected with trachoma
Over 15,400
were at risk of blindness from trachoma

Meeting Enjoyed and Promotion

We arrived in the Binga district on a Friday, visiting hospitals and local communities. What makes travelling across Binga particularly difficult is the lack of infrastructure: there is no major town, the residents are widely dispersed and the area has recently experienced its worst flood in years.

Some of our newer team members chose to cross the small rivers and floods on foot while the experienced Peter Bare, country director for Sightsavers Zimbabwe, managed to expertly tackle each difficult crossing in his jeep.

Peter Bare explains the challenges in finding trachoma cases in Zimbabwe.

After three days of travelling across the Binga district and visiting communities, we met Promotion and her 18-month-old son, Enjoyed. Their home was close to several other communities – we weren’t in an isolated area.

Promotion was very welcoming as we arrived, though clearly quiet and shy as she continuously tried to settle Enjoyed. She explained how Enjoyed’s eyes were discharging more than normal, particularly first thing in the morning. The discharge was causing Enjoyed to cry and scratch his eyes due to the pain he was suffering.

Similar to his mother, Enjoyed was very shy and quiet, regularly seeking comfort in being close to his mother. The pain was clearly causing great discomfort.

Promotion tried her best to help her son and sort out the situation, but the local services were unable to help. Upon visiting a health facility, she was told they had no provision of treatment for eyes. This only made her worry more.

Hope was restored for Promotion when she later learned that an antibiotic treatment would be arriving the next day, as a part of the Sightsavers trachoma elimination programme.

To our relief, Promotion immediately warmed to the idea of giving her son the medicine, with no fears or worry.

Following Enjoyed’s treatment, Promotion expressed great interest in learning about how to prevent future trachoma infections. The local health workers explained the SAFE strategy, as endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Finally, as a precaution, we arranged for Promotion herself to be checked for trachoma: luckily, we were able to confirm that she didn’t have it.

Enjoyed’s freedom from trachoma is just one example of the work your generous donations make possible. It goes beyond just treating trachoma, as education is necessary to prevent future infections: that is how trachoma in Zimbabwe can be eliminated.

In fact, since 2020, the number of districts where trachoma is still prevalent has dropped from 21 to just three. The district of Binga, where Promotion and Enjoyed live, is one of those you have been able to help.

We are so close to eliminating trachoma in Zimbabwe: we can’t stop now.

I’m so thankful to Sightsavers for the support and the health education through the village health workers.
Promotion, Enjoyed’s mother
Enjoyed sits in his mother's lap outside their home.

Help eliminate trachoma in Zimbabwe