As of March 2020, trachoma is known to be a public health problem in 44 countries, affecting communities with limited access to healthcare and other essential infrastructure, including water, sanitation and hygiene. Women are disproportionately affected and are twice as likely than men to develop trachomatous trichiasis (TT), the late blinding stage of trachoma.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1.9 million people are blind or experience vision impairment due to trachoma and two million people require urgent surgery to treat trachomatous trichiasis.
Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made towards the global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem. The World Health Organization’s Weekly Epidemiological Record, published on 24 July 2020, reported that the number of people at risk of trachoma has declined from 1.5 billion in 2002 to 136.9 million in 2020 – a 91% reduction. Furthermore, 10 countries have been validated for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem, across all WHO-endemic regions.
The Record also reports that in 2019, 67% of people who underwent surgery were female, indicating gender equity in TT surgery delivery is being achieved.