Join a powerful, unprecedented alliance for better eye health for all.Join IAPB
Maputo | Geneva — The number of people at risk of trachoma – the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness – has fallen from 1.5 billion in 2002 to just over 142 million in 2019, a reduction of 91%, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.
New data was presented at the 22nd meeting of the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020, (GET2020) also show that the number of people requiring surgery for trachomatous trichiasis – the late, blinding stage of trachoma – has dropped from 7.6 million in 2002 to 2.5 million in 2019, a reduction of 68%.
In 2018 alone, 146112 cases of trichiasis were managed and almost 90 million people were treated with antibiotics for trachoma in 782 districts worldwide.
Since 2011, eight countries have been validated by WHO as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem.1 At least one country in every trachoma-endemic WHO Region has now achieved this milestone, demonstrating the effectiveness of the SAFE strategy in different settings.
“This is great progress, but we cannot afford to become complacent,” said Dr Anthony Solomon, Medical Officer in charge of WHO’s global trachoma elimination programme. “We should be able to relegate trachoma to the history books in the next few years, but we will only do so by redoubling our efforts now. The last few countries are likely to be the hardest”.
The significant reduction in the global prevalence of trachoma has resulted from increased political will in endemic countries, expansion of control measures and generation of high-quality data. The global programme has been supported by the world’s largest infectious disease mapping effort – the Global Trachoma Mapping Project (2012–2016) – and, since 2016, by Tropical Data, which has assisted health ministries to complete more than 1500 internationally-standardized, quality-assured and quality-controlled prevalence surveys.
Image on top: Examining children on suspicion of trachoma by Leila Nezamabadi Farahani for #EyeCareEverywhere photo competition