The first global map of trachoma and trichiasisBy Sightsavers
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The International Trachoma Initiative
The UK Government
USAID usaid.gov (@usaid)
World Health Organisation
Issa Dawood has dedicated his life to teaching in rural Sudan. However, at 82 years old, he was unable to enjoy his retirement. Several years ago, he started suffering from an infectious disease called trachoma, which nearly blinded him.
Trachoma is responsible for 3% of the world’s blindness – that’s over 220 million individuals. A bacterial infection, trachoma is spread by contact with other people and insects that pick up infected mucus. Repeated infections can develop into a condition called trichiasis, which causes the eyelids to turn in and the lashes to scrape the eyeball, causing great pain and permanent blindness.
Until recently, people like Issa were not easily identified for treatment, yet 80% of the world’s blindness can be prevented. Seeing this as a great injustice, an international organisation called Sightsavers launched the largest ever project to map trachoma around the world, together with 53 supporting organisations, including the UK government and USAID.
Completed in 2016, the Global Trachoma Mapping Project saw surveyors, often local medical practitioners, collect and transmit data from 2.6 million people in 28 countries. The sample of people surveyed represents a global population of 224 million, and over 100 million people have been identified at risk of blindness. Surveyors use Android smartphones, which transmit their data to a team of analysts in the United States, who have been building the first truly global map of trachoma and trichiasis.
It was thanks to the project that 82-year-old Issa Dawood was examined and referred for free, sight-saving treatment. “I am very happy that the trachoma mapping is happening – I don’t want my children to suffer what I have suffered,” Mr Dawood said.
Sightsavers is calling for more support, from donations to volunteering. Find out how you can help at http://www.sightsavers.org
Image courtesy of Dboybaker
Last updated: 10th of August, 2016