The #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge is a unique initiative inviting Londoners to snap a selfie with a purpose – in the loo. Participating locations are decking out their bathroom mirrors with selfie stickers that do more than just reflect – they inspire action. Each selfie shared with the campaign hashtag on social media aims to raise awareness about trachoma.
Worldwide, over 115 million people are at risk of trachoma, despite the condition largely disappearing in most industrialised nations over half a century ago. The disease thrives in areas of poor sanitation, robbing children and adults of their sight if left untreated.
Women are at a higher risk of contracting trachoma due to being the main caregivers in many homes. Children aged one to nine are the most commonly infected group, and so women are exposed to infection more regularly. A lack of access to clean water, hygiene education and adequate toilets in low-and middle-income countries puts more women at risk of trachoma than men, and in turn traps children and families in poverty as they lose access to education and employment. This cycle underscores the urgent need for attention and action to break free from the blinding injustice of trachoma – a disease which has long since been wiped out in many industrialised nations.
Earlier this year, Orbis distributed their 100 millionth dose of antibiotics to stop and slow the spread of trachoma in Ethiopia. But the charity wants to raise awareness that the condition will continue to threaten the sight of millions until we live in a world where clean water and toilets are available for all, not seen as a luxury.
This campaign links toilet selfies to the bigger picture – that of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, which envisions safe sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030. The World Health Organisation aims for global trachoma elimination in the same year.
For more information on the campaign, Orbis’s work, and how you can participate, visit https://gbr.orbis.org/en/trachoma-toilet-selfie
Trachoma is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the outer eye. Trachoma infection is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatous, which is 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 common in areas of the world where there is poor sanitation, a lack of clean water and overcrowded housing. Trachoma infection can be prevented and treated, but many repeated infections can lead to trichiasis. This is a painful condition where the eyelids turn inwards and the eyelashes rub against the surface of the eye. Without treatment, it can lead 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 taking part in the #TrachomaToiletSelfie challenge.
- 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.