The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is to lead a major new research project that aims to accelerate the elimination of trachoma. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is an alliance of civil society organisations, corporates and professional bodies promoting eye health through advocacy, knowledge and partnerships.
Stronger-SAFE is a £3.9m Welcome Trust funded project that will increase the understanding of how trachoma is transmitted, and hopefully lead to the development and testing of new, more effective interventions and treatment approaches. The five year study will take place in Ethiopia where the disease is highly endemic.
Trachoma is responsible for 3% of the world’s blindness, with more than 80% of the burden of active trachoma concentrated in 14 Sub-Saharan African countries.
However, data from hyperendemic regions, areas where trachoma rates are continually high such as Ethiopia, suggest that current approaches do not consistently have the anticipated impact on infection and disease.
Matthew Burton, Professor of International Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, is the project’s Principal Investigator. He said: “Trachoma is a terrible disease. Of the 190 million people who live in areas where it’s endemic, around two million are visually impaired, of whom 500,000 are blind. Trachoma is a disease of poverty that mainly affects people who live in hot, dry areas where there is poor availability of water and sanitation.”
Trachoma is a catastrophic and costly disease for Ethiopia. With more than 70% of districts in Ethiopia currently requiring mass drug administration, more than 73 million people are affected by trachoma almost 80% of the Ethiopian population. – Stronger-SAFE