TRACHOMA (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Sci & Tech)

News-CRUX-10     5th August 2023        
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Context: Iraq has now joined the league of 17 other countries that have eliminated trachoma, a neglected tropical disease and the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced recently. 

  • The country is also the 50th to be acknowledged by the United Nations health agency for eliminating at least one neglected tropical disease globally. 
  • Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness and is one of the conditions known as neglected tropical diseases.
  • The disease is still known to be endemic in six countries of the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, but there has been substantial progress in the number of people in the region requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma elimination purposes, which has fallen from 39 million in 2013 to 6.9 million in April 2023.


  • About: It is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness and is one of the conditions known as neglected tropical diseases.
      • It is caused by the infection due to the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
  • Symptoms: Trachoma starts off as a bacterial infection and can be easily treated. 
      • The disease thrives where there are water shortages, poor sanitation and infestations of flies, which are considered physical vectors of the disease.
  • Transmission: Trachoma spreads through personal contact (via hands, clothes or bedding). 
      • It also transmits by flies that contact with the discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person.
  • Trichiasis: Overtime, it causes the eyelashes to be pushed inwards into the eye. 
    • So with every blink, they brush against the eyeball. This advanced form of trachoma is called trichiasis. 
    • Over time, if it’s not treated, trichiasis can lead to blindness.

  • Effects and Impacts: Trachoma mainly affects children. It is becoming less common with increasing age.
    • Repeated Trachoma infection causes scarring leading to in-turning of the eyelashes and eyelids which further causes damage to cornea and blindness.
    • It is main cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young children.
    • In 2017, India was declared free from infectious Trachoma
    • With this, India met goal of trachoma elimination as specified by World Health Organisation (WHO) under its GET2020 (Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020) program. 
  • It was launched to map 25 districts suspected of being trachoma-endemic.
  • The mapping survey aimed to determine the prevalence of active trachoma (TF) in 1-9-year-old children, and the prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) in adults aged 15 years and above.