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Trachoma: An introduction

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness. Watch this animated presentation to learn about its natural history and clinical features.

Trachoma is an infectious eye disease. It is also a very old disease that has been well-documented throughout history. Some of the earliest trachoma maps show that it was found across most countries globally. In recent years, the number of countries affected by trachoma has reduced, but it still remains the main infectious blinding eye disease, with over 142 million people at risk, across 44 countries.

At an individual level, the disease is a painful, disabling condition that starts in childhood and can progressively cause blindness. The impact of this contagious disease can be devastating for the affected person, their family and their community. Trachoma is most prevalent in rural, dry, dusty regions; often affecting communities already struggling with poverty.

We are in a unique position at present! We have an effective antibiotic to treat the disease and control its spread. We also can prevent blindness as a consequence of trachoma through surgery. We have a global strategic plan and simultaneous national level planning to mobilise partners and resources to treat and prevent trachoma. We can begin to have an ambition – to eliminate trachoma!

The planned strategy that needs to be implemented is known as SAFE. This acronym denotes the key activities that need to be delivered at both community and individual levels to achieve our goal of elimination.

  • S – trichiasis surgery to prevent blindness
  • A – antibiotic distribution to clear infection
  • F – facial cleanliness to reduce transmission
  • E – environmental improvement to ensure sustainable elimination of the disease

As you watch the video, consider why trachoma may have disappeared from some regions of the world (e.g. Europe, America, parts of Asia) and not in others?

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Eliminating Trachoma

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