The Accelerate programme

The Accelerate trachoma elimination programme aims to support at least 15 countries to eliminate trachoma as a public health risk, and speed up progress in two others by 2027.

Eye care staff perform trachoma surveys on children in Cote D'Ivoire.

Sightsavers has embarked on a remarkable journey with some of the most trusted names in modern philanthropy, in a bid to eliminate an ancient and blinding disease.

It began as part of The Audacious Project, hosted by TED, to turn transformative ideas into action. Motivated by our long-standing partner Virgin Unite, we pitched the audacious idea of eliminating trachoma as a public health problem, to inspire donors to come together to end an ancient disease that is depicted in the hieroglyphs on ancient Nubian tombs.

As a result, a fund worth over $100 million was launched to accelerate the end of trachoma. It was announced by Richard Branson, via recorded video link, at the high-profile Global Citizen concert in Johannesburg on 2 December 2018.

We’re extremely grateful to all donors involved in the Accelerate programme. These include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The ELMA FoundationVirgin Unite and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Accelerate programme builds on the announcement UK aid made in April 2018 to boost elimination efforts through the Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund.

Watch the video below to learn about the history of trachoma.


The programme’s impact so far

A white and yellow icon representing an eye with cataracts. The pupil and iris are covered with dashed yellow lines.

We’ve worked with governments to manage more than 91,000 cases of advanced trachoma

A white and yellow icon of a small bottle of medicine, with one round tablet leaning on its side.

We’ve helped to distribute 53 million treatments to prevent people losing their sight

We’ve played a key role in supporting Benin to eliminate trachoma in May 2023

The journey ahead

We have decided to expand the scope of the Accelerate programme, after receiving additional funding from our original donors and some new financial backers. We are now aiming to support 17 countries to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem, 15 of which hope to be validated by the World Health Organization (WHO) by 2027.

The programme will also continue to build on ground-breaking research into the link between the antibiotic used to treat trachoma and a reduction in childhood mortality. Sightsavers and our partners will work alongside endemic countries at all times to help strengthen health care systems, so progress continues in the long-term.

Which countries are involved?

Accelerate aims to eliminate trachoma as a public health risk in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also aims to make progress towards trachoma elimination in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Global progress

Thanks to the work of endemic countries and the support of individuals, families and organisations such as the Accelerate donors, USAID, The END Fund, Conrad N. Hilton FoundationThe Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and UK aid, since 2002 the number of people at risk of trachoma has dropped by 91%.

In 2023, the programme helped to eliminate trachoma in Benin, and it is now within our grasp to make history by ridding the world of this painful disease. But more funding and support is needed to finish the work we’ve started.

A close-up of a woman having her eyes checked for trachoma.

“All the pain was gone. It was like a miracle!”

The Accelerate programme helped to eliminate trachoma in Benin, transforming lives in the process.

Read the story

How you can help us beat NTDs

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Donor institutions

Vital funding from governments and other institutions will ensure we can continue our fight to eliminate debilitating neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma.
Become a donor institution

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Corporate partners

A corporate partnership with Sightsavers can add value to your business and fund our life-changing work. Your generous support can have a huge impact.
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Give a gift

Every gift you give helps change lives for people in some of the world’s poorest countries. With your help, we can continue to treat and prevent diseases like trachoma.
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