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Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP)

What is the Global Trachoma Mapping Project?

A child being examined.The project, 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 £10.6 million project was funded by the UK government and led by Sightsavers, with co-funding of approximately £6 million provided by USAID. This groundbreaking collaboration was a partnership of more than 53 organisations, including 30 ministries of health, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the International Trachoma Initiative, the World Health Organization and more than 20 not-for-profit eye health organisations.

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. Click here to view the interactive feature that maps the world’s leading infectious cause of avoidable blindness.

The video below was filmed during the project.

What did the project achieve?

Thanks to 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.

A GTMP worker collecting data with a mobile phone.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 (such as 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, 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.

UK Aid logo.

A classroom full of children at Kachiemeri primary school in Turkana county, Kenya.Kachiemeri primary school

Sightsavers has been working to improve sanitation facilities at Kachiemeri primary school in Kenya, teaching the children about the causes of trachoma and how it can be prevented via good hygiene, hand and face washing. The children can then take their new-found knowledge home to their parents.

Neema.Neema’s story

Neema knows better than most children how important it is to wash her hands and face. She and her family were visited a few years ago by Pearson Senyagwa, a health worker in Tanzania who taught Neema and her family about the importance of face washing to control the impact and spread of trachoma.

Dr Bilghis.Dr Bilghis’s story

Dr Bilghis has been an ophthalmic consultant since 2006, and leads the Global Trachoma Mapping team in Sudan. She and her team have spent the past three years travelling to some of the country’s most remote, hostile areas to carry out eye examinations and assess the spread of trachoma in the country.


82 year old Issa Dawood, who has trachoma, is examined by a doctor. Issa’s story

Issa Darwood, aged 82, didn’t know what was causing his sight to deteriorate. He had been mistakenly diagnosed with cataracts and glaucoma, but it wasn’t until an outreach team visited his village as part of the Global Trachoma Mapping Project that he learned he was suffering from trichiasis (an advanced form of trachoma).

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