International development organisation The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed news that trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, has reduced across the world by 91 per cent since 2002.
The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said the figures show that Fred’s dream of eliminating trachoma is on track to be realised.
“The Fred Hollows Foundation welcomes news from the World Health Organization, one of our global partners, that far fewer people are at risk of trachoma than they were in 2002,” Mr Wishart said.
“Seventeen years ago, 1.5 billion people were estimated to be at risk of trachoma. These new figures show 142 million people are at risk today – a remarkable achievement.
“The Foundation is proud to have played a leading role in efforts to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem across the world.
“We conducted the largest trachoma elimination project in the world in Ethiopia in 2017, supporting one in five surgeries and one in five doses of antibiotics globally.”
In the past four years, The Foundation has distributed more than 70 million doses of antibiotics for trachoma and supported more than 213,000 trachoma surgeries, as well as educating 4.2 million children and community members about trachoma and the ways to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Foundation supports trachoma elimination efforts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, Pakistan, Vietnam, Australia and the Pacific.
The prevalence of trachoma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia has fallen dramatically over the years. However, trachoma is still prevalent in some remote parts of Australia.
“Trachoma is a painful but preventable infectious eye disease which no one should have to suffer from. We have made massive inroads into the problem and will continue our efforts,” Mr Wishart said.
“More work is needed to eliminate this ancient disease for good, but this is a great testament to what we can achieve with strong partnerships and resolute political support.”