The largest infectious cause of blindness in the world is trachoma. If treatment is not obtained, scar tissue can form beneath the eyelid. This causes the eyelashes to rub against the cornea. This is not only incredibly painful but can cause blindness. Girls in Africa pull out their eyelashes with tweezers for relief but they grow back even more vicious. The record of trachoma goes back to ancient Egypt. This disease affects the poorest communities in the world and there are currently 182 million people with this disease facing potential blindness. Sightsavers understands this disease is treatable and preventable yet still it damages entire communities.
This may change due to a collaborative alliance created to eliminate trachoma. Oman was the first validated country to eliminate trachoma in 2012. The disease came to an end in Morocco in 2016 and Laos, Cambodia and Mexico were free of trachoma in 2017. There are six additional countries close to being rid of this disease. Ghana is expected to make history as the first country to be rid of the disease in sub-Saharan African country. This has been achieved by the collaboration of ministries of health, pharmaceutical companies, INGO’s like Sightsavers, donors the International Coalition for Trachoma Control. Their work encompasses shared strategies and visions for the SAFE strategy.
SAFE is an acronym for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. Their strategy is to ensure every country with the health problem of trachoma has the resources they require to eliminate the disease. They have proved it is possible to eliminate trachoma. The Tropical Data service provides support for the national health ministries so data can be collected from areas successful in eliminating trachoma. Smartphone technology is used to collect and transmit data faster for analyzation. High quality surveys can be conducted in difficult and remote environments. Sightsavers is an important part of eliminating trachoma.
TED is hosting the Audacious Project. They understand it is time to end trachoma. The only reason trachoma still exists in many countries is because they lack the necessary resources to eliminate the disease. The United Kingdom has made an announcement they are committed to eliminating the disease with funding for £20 million. This will boost the efforts to eliminate trachoma by 2020 in ten Commonwealth countries. The fund for 2018 through 2020 is being coordinated by Fred Hollows Foundation in the Pacific and Asia and Sightsavers in Africa. This is with close collaboration through the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, local communities and ministries of health.