Neglected tropical diseases

Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic wipe out trachoma—leading infectious cause of blindness

19 September 2017 | Manila -- The World Health Organization (WHO) today congratulated the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.

Trachoma is an eye disease caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Infection is spread through contact with discharge from the eyes and nose of an infected person, particularly young children. It is also spread by flies which have been in contact with the eyes and noses of infected people. Transmission of the infection is closely linked with poor sanitation and hygiene.

After years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid can become so scarred that it turns inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball, scarring the eye and potentially leading to blindness.

“Trachoma is a disease of poverty. Communities that don’t have good access to safe water and sanitation are the hardest hit. But it is possible to tackle this public health problem, as Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic have done, by making the right investments to protect peoples’ health,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

Trachoma has been a recognized problem in Cambodia since the 1990s and in the Lao People's Democratic Republic since the 1970s.


Contact:
Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Communications Unit, Manila
Telephone: +632 528 9993
serranor@who.int