Ground-breaking Trachoma mapping project

Posted on: Wednesday, 17th February, 2016

Identifies 100 million people at risk of avoidable blindness.

"The Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP), the largest infectious disease survey ever to be undertaken, has successfully identified 100 million people at risk of blinding Trachoma.

CBM was one of several partners who contributed to this ground-breaking global collaboration, working in Pakistan with the College of Ophthalmology and Allied Visions Sciences, Lahore, to map prevalence of the disease across 4 districts of Punjab province and 2 districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) province.

Other partners in the ground-breaking collaboration included 30 ministries of health, the UK government (DFID) and US government (USAID), the World Health Organisation, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and 20 not-for-profit organisations, most of whom are members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC). The Consortium was led by UK-based NGO Sightsavers.

The GTMP aimed to map the global prevalence of trachoma, which is responsible for the visual impairment of an estimated 2.2 million people worldwide. Trachoma is an eye infection that strikes children and families who live in dusty regions and quickly spreads from person to person, attacking entire communities. It causes itching, pain and, if untreated, blindness.

The GTMP involved the global rollout over a 3-year period of a standardised assessment process which used trained eye health workers and a smartphone. Survey teams visited and examined people living in a sample of communities within pre-identified districts and captured data on the presence of the disease. It was estimated that 1 person was examined every 40 seconds over a 3 year period.

More than 550 teams, travelled to the most trachoma endemic countries in the world and the remotest of locations. They trekked across snowy mountain ranges in Asia, navigated islands by boat in the Pacific, crossed jungles by light aircraft and dug-out canoes in South America to reach some of the remotest areas, to gather an accurate global picture of where trachoma is found.

View the interactive feature which maps the world’s largest infectious cause of avoidable blindness.

The data collected are helping ministries of health plan their trachoma intervention programmes to achieve trachoma elimination by 2020 using the WHO-recommended “SAFE strategy”.

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive for CBM UK said, “Thanks in no small part to the funding provided by the UK government and USAID, the GTMP will lay down the foundations in the eradication of blinding trachoma and will contribute to ending the prevalence of other NTDs. The project gives us a glimpse of the enormous potential that accurate and efficient data, allied with the novel use of technology and the collaboration of our partners, has in the process of eliminating diseases such as trachoma.”

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development said, “By working together we can eliminate blinding trachoma from the world. What we have achieved with this partnership is astonishing and will transform the lives of people for millions of years to come.”"

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