WHO Trachoma Fact sheet, April 2017

WHO Trachoma Fact sheet, April 2017.

Key facts

  • Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
  • It is known to be a public health problem in 42 countries, and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people. Nearly 182 million people live in trachoma endemic areas and are at risk of trachoma blindness.
  • Blindness from trachoma is irreversible.
  • Infection spreads through personal contact (via hands, clothes or bedding) and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person. With repeated episodes of infection over many years, the eyelashes may be drawn in so that they rub on the surface of the eye, with pain and discomfort and permanent damage to the cornea.
  • The World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA51.11 in 1998, targeting the global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem.
  • The elimination strategy is encapsulated by the acronym “SAFE”: Surgery for advanced disease, Antibiotics to clear C. trachomatis infection, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement to reduce transmission.
  • In 2016, more than 260 000 people received surgical treatment for advanced trachoma, and 86 million people were treated with antibiotics. Global-level antibiotic coverage was 47%, a considerable increase compared to the 29% coverage achieved in 2015.
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