Trachoma results from bacterial infection of the conjunctiva by Chlamydia Trachomatis. Repeated infections of the conjunctivae with Chlamydia trachomatis can lead to trichiasis, corneal opacity and blindness.
It prevails in impoverished communities where hygiene is inadequate. Infection occurs primarily among younger children and is transmitted from person to person mainly through contact and sometimes by eye-seeking flies.
Trachoma is found in 44 countries and has blinded or visually impaired around 1.9 million people worldwide (WHO).
Treatment and successes
There is a prevention and treatment strategy: the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy that brings Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement to communities where trachoma is found. To implement SAFE, national governments and non-governmental organizations are uniting like never before.
This has led to remarkable successes: the WHO reports that the number of people at risk of trachoma has fallen from 1.5 billion in 2002 to just over 142 million in 2019, a reduction of 91%. Since 2011, eight countries have been validated by WHO as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem.
Trends and challenges
Delayed action is costly. Vision loss or blindness leads to loss of social status, stigmatization and reclusion from society. With the global community using a strategic plan to focus time, attention and funding, the elimination of trachoma is a possibility.