Trachoma is an infection of the upper inner lining of the eyelid, caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. Acute infections occur more commonly in young children, and repeated untreated infections in childhood can lead to blindness in older adults. It is caused by inadequate housing, overcrowding, poor hygiene, dusty conditions and can be spread by touch, flies and sharing towels.
Early immigrants brought the disease to Australia, but it disappeared in most areas around 100 years ago with improved living standards. However, trachoma is still prevalent today in Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia which makes Australia the only developed country where the disease continues to persist.
The trachoma elimination program aims to eliminate blinding caused by trachoma by;
- Reducing cases of active trachoma in children between the ages of 1 – 9 to less than 5 % of the population of children in a community.
- Raise awareness of facial cleanliness, so that, at any given time, 80% of the children in a community have clean faces.
- Reducing the number of people with untreated trichiasis to less than 1 per 1000 people.