HealthHighlight

Nigeria, 15 other countries receive $36.5m funding to combat Trachoma

"The goal is to eradicate the disease by 2027"

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With Africa ranked as the most affected continent by trachoma, Nigeria and 15 other countries are to benefit from $36.5 million in funding to eliminate the eye disease.

Country Director for Sightsavers, Dr. Joy Shu’aibu, an international development organisation, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Persecondnews reports that Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

It is a public health problem in 42 countries and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people. Blindness from trachoma is irreversible.

It is caused by an obligate intracellular bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis.

The infection is transmitted by direct or indirect transfer of eye and nose discharges from infected people, particularly young children, who harbour the principal reservoir of infection.

These discharges can be spread by particular species of flies.

Dr. Shu’aibu expressed the harrowing impact of trachoma on individuals, adding that the goal is to eradicate the disease by 2027, hence the need for funding through the “Accelerate Programme.”

The country director said: “People describe the pain as like having sand or thorns in their eyes.

“Through the Accelerate Programme, Sightsavers was able to support the government of the Republic of Benin, to eliminate trachoma in 2023.

“And this new funding will supercharge our support for 16 more countries, including Nigeria, to finally end the scourge of trachoma.”

Shu’aibu added that the additional funds would extend the Accelerate Programme, which began in 2018, as part of The Audacious Project, hosted by TED.

According to her, the new funding is from international donors, which include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Others include the ELMA Foundation and, for Zambia, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, as well as Sightsavers’ own contribution.

Africa is the most affected continent by trachoma, where it is the second leading cause of blindness. Rates in some populations can be as high as 59%.

Most trachoma-related blindness is due to corneal scarring. 48% of trachoma is seen in Ethiopia, India, Nigeria,Sudan, and Guinea.

However, 50% of trichiasis is concentrated in China, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

The primary objective of the initiative is to eliminate trachoma as a public health concern by 2027 in 12 targeted countries, including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Namibia, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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