What is trachoma?

Trachoma is a disease caused by a contagious bacterial infection of the eye. It is commonly spread through contact with contaminated hands or clothing and by flies coming into contact with a person’s eyes or nose.

Trachoma often begins in early childhood and progresses over the years as episodes of reinfection, causing inflammation and scarring of the inner eyelid. In some people, repeated infection damages the eyelids, and the eyelashes turn inwards, painfully rubbing against the eye’s surface (a condition known as trichiasis). If left untreated, a series of complications can lead to irreversible blindness.

Trachoma is directly linked to poverty, and communities without access to clean water or effective sanitation are the most vulnerable to it. The disease has a devastating impact on livelihoods, as it limits access to education and prevents individuals from being able to work or care for themselves or their families.

People affected by trachoma

157.5 million people live in areas endemic for trachoma 83.5 million people received antibiotics for trachoma in 2017 43 countries are endemic for trachoma in 2017

WHO NTD roadmap targets for trachoma

The World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs set out a comprehensive plan for the control, elimination and eradication of various neglected tropical diseases by 2020, including trachoma.

Trachoma target: Global elimination as a public health problem by 2020

Progress and scorecard from the 5th progress report

Since 2012, we have monitored progress annually for each disease. This information is from the 5th progress report of the London Declaration published in 2017.

Coverage and impact
Programme support
Drug requests filled
Overall progress

Countries that have eliminated trachoma

Eight countries have eliminated trachoma since 2012:

  • Oman (2012)
  • Morocco (2016)
  • Mexico (2017)
  • Cambodia (2017)
  • Laos (2017)
  • Nepal (2018)
  • Ghana (2018)
  • Iran (2018)

National coverage for people treated with antibiotics for trachoma

People treated with antibiotics for trachoma out of population living in known endemic areas that warrant treatment with antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement for elimination of trachoma as a public health problem.

People receiving preventive chemotherapy for trachoma

Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for trachoma has increased considerably.


  • Data is provided by the World Health Organization
  • Photo: © Sightsavers / Tom Saater