Tackling Trachoma

February 2, 2014

One of the words most neglected diseases, Trachoma begins as a bacterial infection in childhood. Over time it causes inflammation under the eyelid, eventually leading to a build-up of scar tissue which causes the eyelid to turn inwards, leaving the cornea vulnerable to scratches from eyelashes. In the Oromia region of Ethiopia Trachoma has a prevalence rate of 42%, with women being particularly susceptible to picking it up from nursing infected children – who rarely display any symptoms. An incredibly painful condition, it often leads to irreversible blindness. And yet, it is also preventable.

Sightsavers, a British charity, is stepping into the fore with the ambition to rid the world of Trachoma by 2020. Beginning with ‘The global Trachoma Mapping Project’, which seeks to determine high risk areas by surveying some 400 million people in over 30 countries by March 2015, the data collected will be used to target resources and treatment in line with the WHO’s SAFE Strategy.

Supported by funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development, specially trained ophthalmic nurses are carrying out the surveys, using an app to record and upload their findings, while providing antibiotics or a surgery referral for those infected.

It is hoped the scheme will work towards:

  • Operating on one million trachoma patients by 2020
  • Expanding antibiotic distribution to 84 million people
  • Ensuring at least 80% of children aged between one and nine have clean faces by encouraging face washing
  • Stepping up advocacy efforts for increased access to water and sanitation in these communities.
  • Implementing the SAFE strategy in the 24 trachoma endemic countries that Sightsavers works in.

 

Read more here.

Check the status of Trachoma here.

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