Sighsavers: A Beacon of Light & Hope in the Elimination of the Trachoma Epidemic

Trachoma is one of the world’s leading causes of blindness, yet it is the most preventable. At A Ted2018 talk in Vancouver, Sightsavers CEo Caroline Harper wore a necklace with tweezers on it, around her neck as a symbol of the epidemic of trachoma. In different countries in Africa, girls wear tweezers around their necks to use to pull off their eyelashes to remedy the discomfort brought on by trachoma; a remedy that is very short lived. Trachoma is a bacterial infection that affects the inner eye lid. After multiple infections without treatment, scar tissue is formed on the inner eye lid causing the eyelashes to turn inward where they irritate the cornea and slowly and painfully cause blindness. It is a preventable disease, and with the proper resources, Sightsavers claims that trachoma can eventually be eliminated.

 

Many countries including Mexico, Morocco and Cambodia have managed to completely rid themselves of the highly contagious ailment; Six other countries including Ghana are not far behind, and Ghana will be the first Sub Saharan African country to do so. The Collaboration of health ministries, communities, donors, pharmaceutical companies, and members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, including Sightsavers, is what will really make the difference in the fight against trachoma. The World Health Organization has an endorsed strategy called “SAFE” which stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement. All of these factors can aid in completely ridding the world of this disease. Surgery and antibiotics are proper treatment for trachoma, and facial cleanliness and environmental improvement are preventative measures to keep the disease at bay. Trachoma tends to affect poor communities where access to these basic resources can e hard to come by, which is why these places need to have consistent access to these resources in order for the disease to become eliminated. Properly collecting data on the progress and success of treatment is another key factor to be able to know which places need continued assistance in the fight against trachoma; smart phone technology is being put to use in order to collect and share this necessary data with health ministries more quickly which helps to create results more quickly.

 

The Audacious Project, chose trachoma elimination as a project to support; the project is hosted by TED is made possible and supported by non profit organizations and philanthropists who will provide funding for necessary resources in different countries to end trachoma. With both of these amazing projects on board, Audacious Project and the “SAFE” strategy by the World Health Organization, the complete elimination of trachoma is very possible in the foreseeable future!

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