A recent commitment from the British government will allow us to complete a critical step in our quest to eliminate blinding trachoma: a global survey of where people live with this infectious eye disease.
At present, we estimate that trachoma affects more than 21 million people, with 325 million people worldwide living in trachoma-endemic areas and at risk of becoming blind. Once we are able to fully and accurately map the scale and location of trachoma, we will be able to more effectively deploy our resources where they will have maximum impact.
With the support of a significant grant from the British government, a consortium of organizations which includes the International Trachoma Initiative will, over the next three years, conduct surveys in over 30 of the world's poorest countries to gain a complete global picture of where people live at risk of going blind from trachoma. (Read the press release here.)
We are particularly excited that the UK funding (£10.6 million GBP/$16.6 million USD) is going to the Global Trachoma Mapping Consortium. Led by Sightsavers, the consortium includes not only ITI but a range of other NGOs and academic institutions recognized for their expertise on trachoma treatment and prevention.
A process and new ‘tools’ for mapping, including an updated, consolidated survey training manual and a smart phone-based data collection system, will be developed immediately with plans to begin mapping as early as October this year.
Blinding trachoma has a devastating personal and economic impact on people living in some of the world’s poorest countries, so the UK government’s support is vital. By working with a group of NGOs with trachoma expertise, the consortium is bringing together the best available resources for planning, implementation and research to achieve maximum impact with our mapping.
We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of this initiative through our e-newsletter, Trachoma Matters. You can also visit ITI's website at trachoma.org and our sister websites, International Coalition for Trachoma Control and Trachoma Atlas, where the mapping data will also be published, shared and updated regularly.
The end of trachoma is in sight!