Unveiling Injustice: Trachoma’s Disproportionate Effect on Women

Trachoma, a neglected tropical disease, looms as the principal infectious cause of blindness globally, disproportionately affecting women more than men. In a unified effort, London’s hospitality venues are collaborating with Orbis in a campaign aimed at eradicating trachoma by 2030.

The #TrachomaToiletSelfie Challenge

Orbis, a globally active eye care charity working towards eradicating avoidable blindness, is harnessing the power of toilet selfies this winter. Launched on World Toilet Day, this innovative campaign sees Orbis partnering with London’s hospitality sector to combat trachoma, a disease responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of 1.9 million people worldwide.

The #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge encourages Londoners to take a meaningful selfie – in the loo. Participating venues are outfitting their restroom mirrors with stickers that inspire more than just reflection – they prompt action. Every selfie posted with the campaign hashtag on social media is intended to heighten awareness about trachoma.

Globally, over 115 million people are at risk of trachoma, a condition that has been largely eradicated in most industrialised nations for over 50 years. Thriving in areas of poor sanitation, trachoma can rob sight from children and adults if not treated.

Women face a higher trachoma risk due to their primary caregiver roles in many households. With children aged one to nine being the most commonly infected group, women are more frequently exposed to the infection. The lack of clean water, hygiene education, and adequate toilets in lower and middle-income countries puts more women than men at risk of trachoma, perpetuating poverty as it strips away access to education and employment. This situation highlights the critical need for action to eliminate the blinding injustice of trachoma, a disease long eradicated in many industrialised nations.

Earlier this year, Orbis distributed their 100 millionth dose of antibiotics in Ethiopia to combat trachoma’s spread. However, the charity stresses that until the world ensures universal access to clean water and toilets, trachoma will continue to threaten millions’ sight.

This campaign connects toilet selfies with the larger objective of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, aiming for universal safe sanitation and hygiene by 2030. The World Health Organisation also targets global trachoma elimination by the same year.

With each toilet selfie shared online, Londoners can help Orbis highlight the plight of 64 million people at risk of blindness in Ethiopia alone, due to bacteria thriving in areas lacking toilets. Orbis’s challenge, set in restrooms where women and girls globally have disproportionate access, seeks to amplify awareness of their increased risks.

As an eye health organisation, Orbis’s work includes collaborating with local partners to run hygiene and eye care school clubs, training health workers to identify and refer those with the condition for treatment, and conducting surgeries. The charity also partners with organisations that install clean water pumps, hand and face washing facilities, and build essential toilets.

Launching on World Toilet Day, a day dedicated to addressing global sanitation issues, Orbis’s #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge reminds us that change can sometimes start with a simple selfie.

Londoners, get ready to pout, pose, and post to combat trachoma!

Nominate a Friend!

The fun doesn’t stop with a click. Participants are urged to nominate three friends to further propagate the message, reflecting not just faces but the transformative power of social media.

Picturing a World Without Trachoma

For Orbis, the goal is crystal clear – eradicate trachoma by 2030. What better way to ponder this than in a place of reflection – in front of the bathroom mirror! Join the #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge and contribute to Orbis’s vision for a future free from trachoma.

For more information on the campaign, Orbis’s work, and how to participate, visit https://gbr.orbis.org/en/trachoma-toilet-selfie

About Trachoma

Trachoma is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the outer eye. Trachoma infection is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, easily spread by flies and through contact with an infected person, their clothes, and bedding. The disease disappeared from most industrialised nations by the 1950s as housing improved, overcrowding lessened, and indoor bathrooms became more common. However, it is still prevalent in areas with poor sanitation, scarce clean water, and overcrowded housing. Trachoma infection can be prevented and treated, but multiple infections can lead to trichiasis, a painful condition where eyelashes rub against the eye, leading to irreversible blindness. Did you know that 55% of the world’s trachoma is found in Ethiopia? Help Orbis reach the World Health Organisation’s target to eliminate trachoma from Ethiopia by 2030 by participating in the #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge.

Trachoma and Women: Some Data

  • Trachoma Affects Women More Than Men: In Ethiopia, women account for 70% of those with the blinding form of trachoma. Women are often much more exposed to the disease due to their proximity to children who are the group most likely to have the trachoma infection. Studies suggest that the likelihood of women aged 35-40 developing blinding trachoma is four times more common than it is in men.
  • Impact on Productivity: The consequences of trachoma extend beyond health, affecting women’s economic productivity. Blindness or visual impairment can hinder a person’s ability to work, care for their families, and engage in community activities, perpetuating the poverty cycle.
  • Impact on Education: In general, women in low-and middle-income countries have less access to education. Women with blindness or visual impairment face increased barriers to educational opportunities. This further reinforces the cycle of poverty, as education is a key factor in breaking economic disparities.
  • Social and Cultural Factors: In some communities, social and cultural factors may contribute to the higher prevalence of trachoma in women. For example, less access to healthcare systems.

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