The world's leading cause of preventable blindness, trachoma spreads easily from person to person. Of the 320 million people at risk for trachoma, most are children. Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop the advanced stage of the disease, which can lead to painful disability or blindness.
Trachoma is prevalent in poor, rural communities that lack the tools for basic hygiene, clean water, and adequate sanitation. Infections are spread via contact with dirty clothes, hands, and flies that are attracted to people's eyes. In the advanced stage of the disease, called trichiasis, a person's eyelashes turn inward, scraping the cornea with every excruciating blink, causing scarring, diminished vision, and, eventually, blindness.
Trachoma Health Education Materials Library
Currently working in six African countries to eliminate blinding trachoma, The Carter Center, in partnership with Lions Clubs International Foundation, the Hilton Foundation, International Trachoma Initiative, and ministries of health, helps implement the World Health Organization-approved SAFE strategy for trachoma control — surgery, antibiotics, face and hand washing, and environmental hygiene.
The Life Cycle of Trachoma
Trachoma Atlas Website
The Carter Center's Trachoma Control Program was established in 1998. In 2012, through efforts in Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, and South Sudan, The Carter Center reported the following in programmatic achievements:
Improved Sanitation, Hygiene
The Trachoma Control Program also brings auxiliary benefits to public health, such as improved sanitation and personal hygiene. In addition, research jointly conducted by The Carter Center, the University of California at San Francisco, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Health has demonstrated that antibiotic distribution to treat children's active trachoma infections may reduce child mortality, since the antibiotics can help cure common childhood killers like diarrheal diseases.
|The program promotes the building of latrines to reduce the number of eye-seeking flies that spread trachoma. A remarkable offshoot of the campaign for latrines has been its impact on women's lives. In Ethiopia, for example, women are discouraged from relieving themselves in the daytime because it would be culturally highly shameful for them to be seen. The privacy offered by a latrine — which with local materials can cost less than US $2 to build — means women can access it at any time. This collateral benefit sparked the building of millions of latrines in Ethiopia.|
In 2008, with technical assistance from The Carter Center, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to reach the ultimate intervention goals of the SAFE strategy and stop blinding trachoma as a public health problem.
In 2010, the Carter Center-assisted Trachoma Control Program in Nigeria was able to expand its activities from encouraging face and hand washing and improving environmental sanitation to include mass drug administration, with the first-ever treatment for trachoma distributed in October.
The Carter Center continues to look for ways to broaden and expand its trachoma control work with the hope that millions of lives can be spared suffering from this devastating disease.
|In the Amhara region, Ethiopia, trachoma and malaria place major burdens on community health. Since 2007,The Carter Center and its local and international partners have launched an innovative strategy to deliver an integrated package of prevention and treatment interventions called "MALTRA" (malaria and trachoma). This cost-effective and efficient program, which condenses treatment and health education activities into twice yearly, weeklong campaigns, frees time and resources through the rest of the year for health workers to reinforce other critical needs like continuous health education, encouraging personal hygiene, and building latrines. The impact of the MALTRA weeks is being felt by newly empowered communities as they adopt simple public health interventions that help them to protect themselves and their families from the horrors of these diseases. Read more about integration efforts in Amhara region >|
Seeing a Way Around Fear of Eyelid Surgery
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