The Carter Center works with ministries of health in seven African countries to eliminate blinding trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness.
What is trachoma?
Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection found in poor, isolated communities lacking basic hygiene, clean water, and adequate sanitation.
It is easily spread from person to person through eye-seeking flies, hands, 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 over 50 countries, most in Africa and the Middle East, and a few countries in the Americas and Asia.
Globally, 232 million people are at risk for trachoma, and over 4 million are at immediate risk for blindness from trichiasis.
Currently there are 31 countries actively implementing a preventative strategy. The Carter Center works to control and prevent trachoma in the following countries: Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda. Ethiopia has the highest known burden of active trachoma infection in the world. The Carter Center supports the region in Ethiopia that is most affected with active trachoma.
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) endorsed SAFE strategy for trachoma control.
SAFE is a multi-pronged approach to trachoma prevention that includes: Surgery, Antibiotics, Face washing and hygiene education, and Environmental improvement.
Results and Impact
- Since 2000, The Carter Center has been a pioneer in the flight against blinding trachoma. The Carter Center has conducted extensive studies in partnerships with ministries of health and other and has published more than 100 papers in scientific journals and peer reviewed publications.
- The Carter Center has trained and equipped local health workers to surgically correct eyelids deformed by the scarring of multiple trachoma infections. The Carter Center has supported approximately one-fourth of the global output of these types of surgeries. In 2013, The Carter Center supported 57,856 corrective eye lid surgeries, out of the global total of 233,976, to avert blindness.
- The Carter Center has assisted in the distribution of over 105 million doses of Zithromax® (donated by Pfizer Inc), an effective trachoma-fighting antibiotic. In 2013, over 16 million doses were distributed in Carter Center-supported areas.
- The Carter Center has provided more than 12,300 villages with ongoing health education.
- The Carter Center supported the construction of over 150,000 household latrines in 2013. Since 2002, approximately 3.1 million household latrines help to reduce breeding sites for flies, a principal source of infection.
- 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.