UK grant of £39m helping towards eliminating trachoma

The UK Government has committed to invest £39 million to help prevent people losing their sight as a result of avoidable diseases such as trachoma and river blindness. 
Sightsavers has been selected to manage the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), which will implement the programme across the Sub-Saharan Africa. While eye health chairty Orbis has confirmed that it will coordinate and implement the project in Ethiopia, where there is the highest known prevalence of trachoma in the world. 
The grant is intended to help support the elimination of trachoma in countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania. It will also support the implementation of the Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness and Environmental Improvements (SAFE) strategy, which is proven to help eliminate the disease. 
Orbis has been working in Ethiopia for more than 15 years and was the first organisation to implement the SAFE (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, Environmental change) strategy which has been successful in preventing and treating trachoma.
Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection which is responsible for 3% of blindness globally. While statistically it causes an adult to go blind every 15 minutes, of the 230 million people at risk of catching the condition, 70% are female. 
International development minister, Lynne Featherstone, said: “Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world yet it is an entirely preventable disease. Stopping trachoma before it takes hold can make a significant difference to people’s lives, especially women.
“The new programme forms part of DFID’s increased focus on disability. It will help thousands of people receive surgery to prevent blindness; see millions of doses of antibiotics distributed, and improve cleanliness to stop the spread of the disease, including eliminating the conditions which promote disease carrying flies.”

Director of external affairs at Orbis, Allan Thompson, added: “We are delighted that the UK Government has committed to supporting the elimination of trachoma. We will coordinate the activity in Ethiopia where 10 milion people are affected by this completely preventable disease which can lead to increased poverty as people have to give up work or drop out of school."

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