At Ted2018, the Chief Executive Officer of Sightsavers, Caroline Harper, stood before the entire audience of 100’s of people with a pair of tweezers around her neck. For many people, this may not have much significance, but for the girls in Africa that wear these tweezers to offer temporary relief from the devastation of Trachoma, they mean a lot. Sightsavers is working hard with other organizations around the world to try to eliminate this disease which is one of the main causes of blindness around the world.
Trachoma is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history according to experts at Sightsavers. In Ancient Egypt, the disease was mentioned. Throughout the world, upwards of 182 million people may become blind from the disease. Fortunately, with the organizations like Sightsavers working to prevent and treat the devastating illness, Caroline Harper believes that it could only be a matter of a few years before the disease is eliminated completely. Although the disease can be prevented with basic hygiene, in countries where clean water is not readily available, even washing someone’s hands can be a difficult thing to do.
When children are affected by this disease, it interferes with their ability to learn and integrate into a mainly seeing society. When they become adults, it can be very difficult to become employed in these impoverished areas where accessibility for disabilities is not much of a concern. Trachoma is equally as devastating to adults which is why Sightsavers knows they need to do something to stop this illness in its tracks. The pace of eliminating this disease is quickening as more organizations are joining together in the effort. In recent years, several countries such as Oman, Morocco, Laus, Cambodia, and Mexico have been announced trachoma-free by the World Health Organization but there is a considerable way to go to eliminate this neglected tropical disease.