Charting the end game for blinding trachoma
Blinding trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, brings extraordinary human suffering and economic devastation to tens of millions of people, mostly to women and children in poorer countries. A new global strategic plan— 2020 INSight—created by an international coalition of partners lays out specific actions to take and milestones to meet that could lead to elimination of blinding trachoma by the year 2020.
Water-related diseases take an enormous toll on the lives and wellbeing of children worldwide. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF works in partnership with the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and Pfizer Inc. to eliminate blinding trachoma—a water-related disease that is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness. Guest blogger Dr. Danny Haddad is the director of ITI.
Blinding trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, brings extraordinary human suffering and economic devastation to tens of millions of people, mostly to women and children in poorer countries. Children get infected with trachoma at an early age and develop vision loss and blindness later in life. The path to blinding trachoma starts with a benign infection of the eye, appearing in children as a chronic inflammation of the eyelids. But repeated re-infection starts a downward spiral and causes scarring of the eyelid, which leads to painful contact between eyelashes and the eyeball that has been described as if "thorns were scraping my eyes every time I blinked." An estimated 320 million people live in areas where they can be exposed to trachoma, a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). Trachoma blinds one person every 15 minutes and makes one person experience severe sight loss every four minutes. Over 8 million are in the final, painful stages of this eye disease and require surgery to prevent them from going blind. Many more people are affected indirectly, including children deprived of education and other personal development because of the care they provide to help parents at home. www.tapproject.org; to learn more about blinding trachoma, visit www.trachoma.org.
© Mark Tuschman for ITI | Face-washing is a critical part of the SAFE strategy to eliminate blinding trachoma, a preventable disease that affects mostly women and children.