- Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of preventable blindness in the world.
- This painful disease results from a bacterium prevalent in poor communities that have limited access to adequate sanitation and clean water.
- If trachoma is left untreated, recurrent scarring of the eyelid causes the eyelashes to turn inward and rake the cornea – so that the sufferer literally blinks him or herself blind.
- Endemic in 57 countries, with 75% of the afflicted in Africa, trachoma has left over 7.5 million people irreversibly blind and almost 50 million in need of treatment.
What HKI Is Doing
- In our efforts to help control trachoma, Helen Keller International implements the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy (Surgery-Antibiotics-Face cleanliness-Environmental improvements) through community-based programs.
- Helen Keller International strengthens and empowers struggling government health systems by training surgeons and nurses and by providing necessary antibiotic supplies and surgical materials, as well as facilitating patient follow-up. The simple surgical procedure to correct trichiasis, the blinding stage of trachoma, has a success rate of 80%, and can cost as little as $40 per person.
- HKI’s school health programs motivate children to practice frequent face-washing and other preventive habits, a cost-effective way to promote trachoma control.
- HKI works with local governments and organizational partners such as WaterAid to help deliver environmental changes like expanding access to clean water.
- Last year, nearly 20,000 children in Africa were screened for trachoma and 2,600 teachers were trained in teaching trachoma control, reaching 120,000 school children.