Caroline Harper recently spoke at a TED talk about Trachoma. Trachoma is now on the fast track to being eliminated by 2020 or soon after. However, Trachoma is a blinding disease that is preventable and treatable. The communities it affects are unable to prevent or treat it though. She wrote an article for Sightsavers about the disease, and her efforts to prevent it.
What is Trachoma?
Trachoma is brought on by constant bacteria entering the eye and causing infections. These infections become aggressive and eventually lead to scar tissue. In turn, this scar tissue causes eyelashes to grow into the cornea. This is one of the most painful ways to go blind. The lashes will scratch the eye until the person’s sight is completely gone. The sufferer carries tweezers with them to pluck these hairs out, but they always come back. Africa and India are most commonly affected. Currently, about 182 million humans are at risk of going blind from the eye disease.
What is Being Done to Eliminate Trachoma?
Thanks to relief efforts, The World Health Organization has been able to declare Oman, Morocco, Mexico, Laos, and Cambodia free of Trachoma. Ghana and many others aren’t far behind. Sightsavers has collaborated with organizations and medical companies around the world to implement the SAFE strategy. SAFE stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvements. Pfizer has donated many antibiotics to this program.
Important data also plays a role in eliminating this painfully unnecessary disease. This helps the SAFE strategy and Sightsavers discern where the program works, and where is lacking.
When Caroline Harper spoke at TED, she brought Trachoma to light by informing the intelligent audience of the history of the disease, and the misery it’s causing worldwide. Shortly after, UK aid offered twenty million euros to help with elimination efforts. This was a huge leap on the path of eradication.
Goals for the Future
Ten Commonwealth countries will see their elimination efforts increased by 2020. Sightsavers in Africa also plans to organize the Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund with the help of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control.
These collaborations between organizations, companies, Sightsavers, and Countries around the world help to create hope for the eradication of Trachoma. When the disease is finally eliminated, it will be a great victory for humanity.