One of 10 so-called neglected tropical diseases, trachoma – a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis – is a public health problem in an estimated 41 countries and is responsible for blinding or visually impairing about 1.9 million people. It is commonly spread through contact with contaminated hands or clothing and by flies. It is estimated that 10 million people in Uganda are at risk of developing trachoma.
To solve trachoma, governments and NGOs around the world have focused on a SAFE strategy – surgery for in turned eyelashes, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. A yearly dose of antibiotics can clear an infection – even one that isn’t detectable – and that medication has been donated to elimination programs around the world.
But mass administration of antibiotics only treats existing trachoma infection. Elimination of trachoma will happen only if people safely dispose of human waste to reduce the fly population and keep hands and faces clean.
In Uganda, CCP is focusing efforts on Trachoma prevention in two regions still affected by the disease. “Clean hands, clean face, clean homestead keeps Trachoma away!” is the call to action carried on radio and by community water, sanitation and hygiene workers.
Since 2016, CCP has:
- Produced and broadcast radio ads and call-in talk shows
- Produced visual aids and educational videos for water, sanitation and hygiene workers to use with schools and local communities. The aim is to encourage people to use latrines and adopt healthy hand and face washing techniques.
- Worked with the Ugandan government to develop updated sanitation guidelines for schools and communities and to produce another video to raise greater attention and resources for trachoma elimination in Uganda.
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
The Carter Center; Uganda Ministry of Health Neglected Tropical Diseases Division; District Health Services in Busoga and Karamoja regions; Water Aid; Water Mission