Hollows calls on G8 to help eliminate trachoma

The Fred Hollows Foundation has joined an international campaign by eye health organisations, calling on G8 member nations to commit to the elimination of trachoma by the year 2020.

Trachoma is a blinding eye disease present in 57 countries, including Australia. Globally, 1.2 billion people live in trachoma-endemic areas - primarily in the poorest communities in the developing world.

Australia remains the only country in the developed world that is yet to eliminate trachoma, with many remote Indigenous communities still suffering significant levels of the eye disease.

The Foundation's CEO Brian Doolan says the end is in sight for trachoma, but warns that nine years is a short time to achieve this global goal without support from the broader community - including from the leaders of the world's eight strongest nations.

"I know if Fred was still alive, he'd be campaigning for the global community to develop and implement a strategy to get on top of this avoidable problem," Doolan says.

"I can guarantee that Fred wouldn't have stopped until trachoma was eliminated - and this is the attitude we all have to take now.

"But we can't do it without the support of those outside the blindness prevention community. We need each of the G8 member nations to come on board and help us eliminate trachoma by the 2020 deadline."

Ending trachoma, both in Australia and around the world is an achievable goal, thanks to a World Health Organization-endorsed strategy called SAFE (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement). SAFE measures are being introduced into the poorest communities, where trachoma is most likely to be found. Organisations around the world are uniting like never before to implement this strategy.

The Fred Hollows Foundation and other vision organisations are calling for G8 support through the International Coalition for Trachoma Control. The coalition is asking G8 member nations to fulfil their 2010 commitment to "support the control or eliminate high-burden neglected tropical diseases", which include trachoma.

The Fred Hollows Foundation currently has active trachoma elimination initiatives in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Vietnam as well as in its work in rural and remote communities in Australia.

> Learn more about Fred's work to eliminate trachoma in Indigenous communities.
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