Heyiriya with two of her grandchildren.

CBM-supported HANDS Project

Trachoma is the cause of sight problems for about 2.2 million people worldwide, and is part of a group of conditions known as neglected tropical diseases.

Trachoma is a type of eye infection caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis. The bacteria causes inflammation on the lining inside the eyelids and can make the eyelids turn inwards, causing the eyelashes to grow inwards and touch the eyeballs. If left untreated it is extremely painful and can cause scarring and eventual blindness.

It is highly infectious and is often picked up by children and then passed onto their mothers, who are generally their main care givers.

The turning-in of eyelashes can be surgically corrected before it causes permanent damage to the eye, but many people cannot afford healthcare or even the travel costs of getting to hospital. The only option is to resort to solutions like plucking their eyelashes, or just living with pain and, eventually, becoming blind.

CBM in action

Treating and preventing neglected diseases like trachoma requires a long-term, holistic approach. CBM and our Nigerian partner HANDS have been working closely with the community to improve access to water and help them protect themselves from trachoma through:

  • Environmental improvements – giving better access to clean water so families can keep their faces, clothes and bedding clean, and encouraging the construction and maintenance of basic toilets to decrease flies - these are all sustainable ways to reduce the chances of infection.
  • Face washing - teaching rural communities the importance of basic hand and face washing that will help prevent trachoma infection and stop the spread of Covid-19.

Sheite's Story

Just like her grandmother, nine year-old Sheite could lose her sight to blinding disease called trachoma.

Heyiriya from East Africa, has untreated trachoma. The infection swells up your eyelids, which forces them to turn inwards towards the eye. This means with every blink your eyelashes scratch your eyes, forming thousands of tiny scars.

It’s one of the most painful ways to become blind. It is also easy to pass from person to person via unwashed hands, towels or flies.

But many people cannot afford medicine or surgery, so have no chance to stop the infection before it is too late. And if you become blind, you’re more likely to lose the chance to work or go to school, making it so much harder to earn your own living and build a future.

But it doesn't have to happen. Trachoma is treatable if you catch it early and with your support, entire villages can be protected.

Your support can help give access to clean water, share medicine, run surgeries and support families for the long term. This future, free of the pain and blindness of trachoma, is possible with your help.

As a valued friend of CBM, we wanted to give you an exclusive look at our new NTD programme in Nigeria. The full budget for this new programme is currently being finalised by our in-country experts. To receive updates on this new project and to find out how you can support, please sign up below.

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