TACOMA, Washington — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with Canada announced recently that it will strengthen the fight against trachoma, an optic disease that causes people to go blind. A bacterium causes this disease, which is then transmitted by flies and then onto people.
Trachoma is common in many impoverished, rural and remote parts of the world. In Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala the disease affects at least 5.6 million people.
Women are two times as likely to have the disease and are four times more likely to become blind as a result. This is because of many factors such as, “traditional gender-based caring roles in endemic communities, lack of education and limited access to basic health services.”
How the Collaboration Helps Certain Areas
Canada has put in $11.2 million in the fight against trachoma in Latin America, with a goal of reaching at least 10 million people in Latin America over the next five years, The Tico Times reports.
This collaboration focuses on populations who are at risk in places such as Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia and Peru and speed up the handling of the PAHO’s SAFE package of interventions for trachoma. SAFE includes, “surgery to prevent visual impairment and eventual blindness, antibiotics to reduce infection, facial cleanliness to prevent infection and environmental improvement to reduce transmission,” according to PAHO.
In a charge to improve the elimination of the disease in Haiti, Ecuador, Bolivia, El Salvador and Venezuela, they will also get support in determining whether trachoma is a health problem for those most at risk. According to PAHO, Mexico became the first Latin American country to eliminate trachoma as a health problem in 2017 and will receive support to ensure the prevention of future outbreaks.
To Wrap Things Up
According to PAHO, neglected diseases are a group of 20 fungal, parasitic and bacterial diseases, including trachoma that have a disproportionate health effect on impoverished populations which include minorities. Factors of getting this disease include income inequality, little to no access to sanitation or clean drinking water and prevention of well education and healthcare.
PAHO supports American countries to improve efforts towards eliminating these diseases through planned approaches such as the growth of access to health care and education, tackling environmental factors that decrease health and reinforcing stewardship and governance to leave no one behind.
This investment is in support of Canada’s approval of the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). This worldwide declaration has the task of mobilizing commitments and contributions needed to achieve this disease’s elimination goal. In this year alone at least 50 countries have eliminated at least one NTD. This signifies the halfway point of having at least one NTD eliminated in 100 countries by seven years from now.
The combat of diseases like trachoma will improve the lives of many people in impoverished areas.
– Hailey Spencer