Trachoma: a highly contagious infection of the eye, which, if left untreated, can cause the eyelid to turn inward and for the eyelashes to continuously scratch the surface of the eye, which may lead to irreversible blindness.
Most of us have no idea what trachoma is, and have never heard of it. To be honest, I had never heard of it either until I found Sightsavers. For those of us lucky enough to have been born in a country with access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare at the ready, understand what a true blessing that is. Diseases such as trachoma aren’t a huge scare. But for the people in countries under the poverty level that lack clean water and sanitation, trachoma is a true epidemic. Millions are at risk worldwide, mainly in Africa.
Enter in the wonderful people at Sightsavers. They have been working in Africa, more specifically Ghana, since 2000, and just this year (2018), the World Health Organization released an official announcement that Ghana has eliminated the disease as a public health problem. This is a massive breakthrough and will hopefully pave the road for the rest of Africa, showing that eliminating this disease is, in fact, possible.
As a part of collaborative efforts, Sightsavers used a strategy that included surgery, facial cleanliness, antibiotics, and environmental improvement to make this happen. According to the article on their website, more than 3.3 million doses of an antibiotic were given, which helps treat and protect the population from trachoma, and over 6,000 people had sight-saving surgery. They don’t call them Sightsavers for nothing, eh?
Trachoma is a completely treatable and preventable disease, and through hard work, dedication, and a lot of love from the people at Sightsavers, perhaps millions of more people can be spared the devastating outcome that trachoma has.