The Carter Center works with ministries of health in six African countries to control trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness.
What is trachoma?
Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection found in poor, isolated communities that lack the tools for basic hygiene, clean water, and adequate sanitation.
It is easily spread from person to person through hands, eyes, and clothes. Repeated infection leads to scarring and inward turning of the eyelid — a very painful condition called trichiasis — eventually causing blindness if left untreated.
How widespread is the problem?
Trachoma can be found in 59 countries, most in Africa and the Middle East, and a few countries in the Americas and Asia.
Approximately 320 million people are at risk for trachoma, and an estimated 4.6 million are at immediate risk for blindness from trichiasis.
The Carter Center's Trachoma Control Program was established in 1998. As a global leader in the fight against trachoma, the Center and partners implement the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended SAFE strategy for trachoma control (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement).
Results and Impact
- Assisted in the distribution of over 100 million doses of Zithromax® (donated by Pfizer), an effective trachoma-fighting antibiotic.
- Assisted in the construction of nearly 2.9 million household latrines to help reduce breeding sites for flies, a principal source of infection.
- Provided more than 7,900 villages ongoing health education.
- Trained and equipped local health workers to surgically correct eyelids deformed by the scarring of multiple trachoma infections. The Carter Center supports approximately one-third of the global output of these types of surgeries.
The Carter Center continues to look for ways to broaden and expand its trachoma control work with the hope that millions can be spared the suffering caused by this devastating disease.