DONATE

WHO: 74% reduction in people needing advanced trachoma surgery

July 2020
An eye surgeon examines a woman's eyes to check for signs of trachoma.

The number of people requiring surgery to treat severe cases of trachoma, the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness, has declined from 7.6 million in 2002 to 2 million in 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published their most up-to-date statistics on trachoma around the world on 24 July. The report also shows an overall reduction of 91% in trachoma prevalence since 2002 – a decline from over 1.5 billion to 136.9 million as of May 2020.

Trachomatous trichiasis, also known as TT, is the later stage of trachoma, a painful and debilitating eye condition that starts as an infection like conjunctivitis. If left untreated, it can cause intense discomfort in the eyes, preventing people from carrying out their daily activities. In more severe cases it can lead to irreversible blindness.

As part of Accelerate, an ambitious project to speed up progress toward the elimination of trachoma, Sightsavers is tackling the disease in 14 African countries alongside major global health organisations and philanthropists including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Virgin Unite.

The report highlights that in 2019, 95.2 million people around the world received antibiotics for trachoma and more than 90,000 people were treated with surgery for TT. 

Trachoma spreads where access to clean running water and other sanitation is scarce, but it can be treated and prevented effectively using the SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements). This combined approach of surgical interventions and encouraging behavioural changes has been successful at protecting communities in the countries where we work.

Sightsavers has also developed a mobile phone app, the TT Tracker, which is helping to ensure TT patients in rural areas, where communities are far from health facilities, receive the follow-up care they need post-surgery.

The full trachoma report from the WHO can be found here.

Students practice using measuring sticks to calculate drug dosages in Masindi, Uganda.

The Accelerate programme

Sightsavers has embarked on a remarkable journey with some of the most trusted names in modern philanthropy, in a bid to eliminate an ancient and blinding disease.

About the project

Read all our latest news stories

News from Sightsavers
A woman sits talking on a mobile phone.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers wins Zero Project award for political participation work

The prize was awarded for our inclusion project which promotes the rights of people with disabilities to participate in civic and political life in Cameroon and Senegal.

December 2022
Nanny Powers
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers launches campaign to ratify African disability rights treaty

The African Disability Protocol (ADP) addresses disability rights issues specific to people with disabilities living in African countries.

October 2022
Simon Bush.
sightsavers_news

Sightsavers director rewarded for his work on neglected tropical diseases

Sightsavers’ Simon Bush has received a lifetime achievement award for his work on river blindness, and has been named president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

October 2022

Learn about our work to save sight