Sightsavers Celebrates the Eye Disease Trachoma Being Eliminated in the First Sub-Saharan African Country
Trachoma has now been eliminated in Ghana thanks to a collaborative partnership between Sightsavers and the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health service, and also with more than 20 NGOs, pharmaceutical companies and others, including members of the International Coaltion of Trachoma Control which in addition to Sightsavers includes The Carter Center, the International Trachoma Initiative, USAID END in Africa and FH1360. The elimination of Trachoma has been validated by the World Health Organization.
Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world, and is considered an NTD (neglected tropical disease). Trachoma is a bacterial disease that is spread by human contact with infected flies and also spreads between people through hand contact and spreads in clothes and bedding. Because of the way Trachoma is spread, it thrives in poor areas where there is lack of clean drinking water and good sanitation, so flies often thrive in these areas and can spread the disease. Trachoma has also been devastating in societies where women have traditional gender roles, where women have a lot of contact with the materials in the home that can spread the disease and also can pass it to their children. In turn women who suffer this disease lose their independence and stop being able to care for family members. Trachoma causes the eyelids to turn inwards leading the eyelashes to scratch the eye’s surface that often leads to irreversible blindness if left untreated.
Trachoma is fully treatable and thankfully for Sightsavers and its partners, is completely eliminated in a place where previously women and others suffering from the disease and could only see themselves going blind now can begin to live functional and fuller lives again with the gift of sight. Sightsavers and partners delivered antibiotics, products for facial cleanliness, improvement in the environment and performed surgery towards eliminating the disease in Ghana. More than 6,000 people there were given surgery to relieve pain and save lives, and 3.3 million doses of the antibiotic Zithromax donated by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer helped to treat and protect people against infection.