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Colombia is working on a national plan to eliminate trachoma as a Public Health problem. Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, and is responsible for approximately 3% of the world’s blindness. Women and children living in isolated and poor rural areas are the population groups most at risk of infection by trachoma. Trachoma is also a part of the infectious diseases called "neglected " due to its association with poverty, marginalization and because they are not on the governments health agenda. PAHO / WHO recommends combating this condition through the SAFE strategy which includes: facial hygiene, environmental improvement, eye surgery and administration of azithromycin antibiotics. These measures already implemented in Colombia, Brazil and Guatemala as part of a regional project for the elimination of blinding trachoma.

Overview

Trachoma (also called granular conjunctivitis, Egyptian ophthalmia, and blinding trachoma), is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection causes a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelids. This roughening can lead to pain in the eyes, breakdown of the outer surface or cornea of the eyes, and possibly blindness. Untreated, repeated trachoma infections can result in a form of permanent blindness when the eyelids turn inward.

The bacteria that cause the disease can be spread by both direct and indirect contact with an affected person's eyes or nose. Indirect contact includes through clothing or flies that have come into contact with an affected person's eyes or nose. Children spread the disease more often than adults. Poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and not enough clean water and toilets also increase spread.

Efforts to prevent the disease include improving access to clean water and decreasing the number of people infected by treatment with antibiotics. This may include treating, all at once, whole groups of people in whom the disease is known to be common. Washing by itself is not enough to prevent disease but may be useful with other measures. Treatment options include oral azithromycin and topical tetracycline. Azithromycin is preferred because it can be used as a single oral dose. After scarring of the eyelid has occurred, surgery may be required to correct the position of the eyelashes and prevent blindness.

Globally, about 80 million people have an active infection. In some areas infections may be present in as many as 60–90% of children and it more commonly affects women than men likely due to their closer contact with children. The disease is the cause of a poor ability to see in 2.2 million people of which 1.2 million are completely blind. It commonly occurs in 53 countries of Africa, Asia, Central and South America with about 230 million people at risk. It results in 8 billion USD of economic losses a year. It belongs to a group of diseases known as neglected tropical diseases.

 

 

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