On November 15, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) validated that the Moroccan government has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, making it the second country in the world to achieve this designation after Oman in 2012.
Our donation of an antibiotic used to treat trachoma, in partnership with the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), as well as the implementation of the WHO-recommend SAFE strategy, played pivotal roles in Morocco reaching this milestone, but there is more work to be done around the world.
Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, spread through close personal contact. It causes the eyelids to turn inward and lashes to scratch the cornea, often leading slowly and painfully to complete loss of sight. It’s a disease that preys on the impoverished – those without enough clean water or decent sanitation – and children are particularly vulnerable.
The WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy outlines important interventions that can stop the spread of trachoma, including:
- Surgery to treat the blinding stage of the disease, known as trichiasis
- Antibiotics to clear infection
- Facial cleanliness
- Environmental improvement, including better access to water and sanitation to help reduce transmission
“The World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy ensures that the positive impacts of antibiotic treatments are sustained through improved hygiene,” said Caroline Roan, Vice President of Pfizer Corporate Responsibility.
So far, more than 100 organizations, including Pfizer and ITI, have come together to implement the SAFE strategy to achieve trachoma elimination targets by 2020. In partnership with ITI, we have also shipped over 600 million doses of the antibiotic used to treat trachoma. To learn more about the Moroccan trachoma elimination as well as the importance of partnerships in achieving elimination targets by 2020, click here or watch the video below.