What is trachoma?
Trachoma is a disease of the eye ? caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It spreads through contact with infective eye or nose discharges. Infection is particularly common in young children.
Ocular or nasal discharge can be transmitted directly from person to person, or be mediated by flies which have been in contact with the eyes and noses of infected people. Transmission is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, which increase the availability of eye discharges and encourage the breeding of flies.
Globally, trachoma is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people. Blindness from trachoma is irreversible.
In 1996, WHO launched the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET2020). With other partners in the Alliance, WHO supports country implementation of the SAFE strategy (Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotics to clear infection, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement to limit transmission) and strengthening of national capacity through epidemiological assessment, monitoring, surveillance, project evaluation and resource mobilization.
Elimination of trachoma is inexpensive, simple and highly cost-effective, yielding a high rate of net economic return.
Global progress on elimination
In 1998, the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem worldwide (WHA 51.11). Since then, significant progress has been made and an increasing number of endemic countries are meeting targets and preparing documentation of national elimination of trachoma as a public health problem.(1)
In 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh identified elimination of neglected tropical diseases as one of the flagship priority programmes. Since then countries in the Region, including Nepal, have been making concerted efforts to eliminate these diseases.
1- Six countries claim to have achieved elimination goals: China, Gambia, Ghana, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq and Myanmar. WHO has validated six countries for having eliminated trachoma as public health problem: Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal and Oman.