Government aims to prevent blindness across Africa

The Government has announced that it will invest £39m to help protect people developing blindness in Africa.

Lynne Featherstone, International Health Minister for the Department for International Development, said the cash would be earmarked to help those with trachoma.

Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection which if left untreated can lead to blindness. It is responsible for three per cent of global blindness, causing 1 adult to go blind every 15 minutes.

Up to 230 million people are at risk of catching the disease with 70 per cent of those affected women.

The cash will be used to help support the elimination of trachoma in countries including Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania, where the disease is highly endemic.

The funding will support the implementation of the surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and other methods aimed at eliminating the disease.

Featherstone said: “Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world yet it is an entirely preventable disease. Stopping trachoma before it gets hold can make a significant difference to people’s lives, especially women. Up to 90 per cent of blind people cannot work making their poverty worse and leading to greater financial insecurity and lower standards of living.

"The £39 million will be implemented by a consortium of International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) members and will be managed by Sightsavers.

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