Skip to content

Malawi eliminates trachoma

Posted on: Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Malawi has become the fourth African country to eliminate the blinding eye infection trachoma. The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed on 21 September that the disease, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, is no longer a public health problem in the southern African nation.

This major achievement is the result of concerted efforts by Malawi’s Ministry of Health, in partnership with many other organisations including CBM. Between 2014 and 2019, CBM worked alongside Malawian partners to treat trachoma and reduce its spread, as part of a major initiative funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, a charitable foundation established to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

CBM Global’s Inclusive Eye Health Director, Danny Haddad, welcomed the announcement:

“The elimination of trachoma in Malawi is life-changing for millions of people. Through the commitment and collective efforts of many organisations, such as CBM Global, our partners and the government, we are able to protect people from blindness caused by this infectious disease. This achievement proves that by working together, we can beat Neglected Tropical Diseases.”

Trachoma is a highly contagious bacterial infection, often passed on between family members. It is prevalent in poor communities, especially where families struggle to access clean water. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but without treatment, the condition leads to agonising pain, as eyelashes turn inwards and scratch against the surface of the eye. This can lead to damage to the cornea and permanent sight loss.

Significant progress has been made in tackling trachoma: in the last 2 decades, the number of people at risk of the condition has dropped by 92%, from around 1.5 billion people in 2002 to 125 million today. Malawi becomes the 15th country to be validated by WHO for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.

Trachoma remains a public health problem in 42 countries, including in Nigeria. But together, we can make a difference.

Join the global effort to help eliminate trachoma – donate now.

Image: Eye health worker Steve from CBM partner Nkhoma Eye Programme examines the eyes of Aida, a 50 year old farmer from Malawi. Advanced trachoma infection, known as Trachoma Trichiasis, left her in constant pain and struggling to see. After surgery to prevent the eyelashes scratching her eye, Aida was free of pain and able to work again. © CBM/Hayduk 2017