A groundbreaking three-year disease-mapping project has shown that 100 million people are at risk of blindness from trachoma.
The Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP), launched in December 2012 and completed in January 2016 saw surveyors collect and transmit data from 2.6 million people in 29 countries using Android smartphones. On average one person was examined every 40 seconds during the three-year project.
The UK government funded £10.6 million project, began in December 2012 and was completed last month, co-funding of approximately £6 million was provided by USAID and the project was led by Sightsavers. This groundbreaking collaboration was a partnership of over 53 organisations including 30 ministries of health, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the International Trachoma Initiative, the World Health Organization and over 20 not for profit eye health organisations.
View the interactive feature which maps the world’s leading infectious cause of avoidable blindness.
The GTMP is the largest infectious disease survey ever undertaken, helping to pinpoint accurately the world’s trachoma endemic areas. The sample of people surveyed during the project represents a global population of 224 million people.
The video opposite was filmed during the Global Trachoma Mapping Project.
Thanks to the android technology, the GTMP has been able to capture and record on the International Trachoma Initiative database more districts in three years than had been recorded in the previous 12 years. The project mapped in areas where no data previously existed because of remoteness, insecurity, insufficient funding, or competing public health priorities.
The data collected provides the ministries of health in endemic countries with the evidence to focus health strategies to tackle the neglected tropical disease with WHO-approved interventions of surgery, antibiotics (through mass drug administration), face-washing and environmental improvements (like sanitation).
Trachoma is responsible for three per cent of the world’s blindness. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and is spread through personal contact (hands, clothing) and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person. After repeated infection it can develop into trichiasis – where the eyelids turn in and the lashes scrape the eyeball, causing great pain and leading to permanent blindness.
During the project, more than 550 teams of trained surveyors including ophthalmic nurses have visited millions of people in sample households in the most remote locations in 29 countries, including Chad, Eritrea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Colombia and Yemen.
Partners meet to discuss joint efforts to eliminate blinding trachoma in Tanzania. Continue reading