The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting a 91 per cent decrease in the number of people at risk of trachoma in less than two decades.
New figures presented at the 22nd meeting of the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020) show the number of people at risk of the condition is down to 142 million from 1.5 billion in 2002. The number of people requiring surgery for trachomatous trichiasis has decreased from 7.6 million in 2002 to 2.5 million in the latest data.
Last year, 146,112 cases of trichiasis were managed and almost 90 million people were treated with antibiotics for trachoma in 782 districts worldwide. Since 2011, eight countries have been validated by WHO as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. Today, trachoma remains endemic in 44 countries.
While there has been huge progress towards eliminating trachoma, the WHO has cautioned there is no room for complacency.
Dr Anthony Solomon, Medical Officer in charge of WHO’s global trachoma elimination programme said: “We should be able to relegate trachoma to the history books in the next few years, but we will only do so by redoubling our efforts now. The last few countries are likely to be the hardest.”