Progress to eliminate trachoma, the world's leading infectious cause of blindness, by 2020 received a yellow score in the fifth Uniting to Combat NTDs scorecard, published today.
The scorecard looked at the ten NTDs listed in the London Declaration and broke down progress for each disease into three categories:
Trachoma elimination efforts received yellow scores for “coverage and impact”, “program support” and “research”, while scoring green for “drug requests fulfilled”.
The scorecard is designed to signal what additional resources are needed to achieve targets in the London Declaration by assessing progress against indicators and milestones set by the WHO's 2020 Roadmap on NTDs and communities of organizations working on specific NTDs themselves.
"The yellow score for trachoma reflects that interventions, put in place by Ministries of Health with support from partners, are working. The successes are tangible and incredibly impressive. However, some countries still do not have programs to deliver interventions to communities in need and in other places interventions are not being delivered at sufficient scale,” said Scott McPherson, Vice Chair of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control. "The number of people living in trachoma-endemic areas has reduced from 325 million in 2011 to 182 million today, but more resources are urgently needed if we are to achieve our elimination targets."
Significant progress has been made in recent years as a result of major programs including the DFID and USAID funded Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP), the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust's Trachoma Initiative and the DFID SAFE Program.
This has contributed to a record-breaking 85 million people received antibiotic treatment in 2016 and 260,000 surgeries being performed. Additionally, five countries have now been validated for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem, including Mexico, Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2017.
Despite this significant progress, trachoma remains a public health problem in 39 countries with 182 million people still at risk. It is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people and an additional 3.2 million people require urgent surgery to treat trichiasis, the late blinding stage of the disease. Global antibiotic coverage reached 44.8% in 2016, a marked improvement from the previous year driven largely by the increased requests for donated treatments using GTMP data to underpin country led applications, but highlights the remaining treatment gap for affected communities.