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Other Talks in the Series: Neglected Tropical Diseases

My name is Dr. Paul Emerson. I'm the Director of the International Trachoma Initiative here at the Task Force for Global Health, Heart of Emory University in Atlanta. In these talks on trachoma, we're going to have two sections. Section 1 is the epidemiology of trachoma and how we have mapped trachoma around the world, and in the second part of the talk, we're going to talk about the global program to eliminate trachoma and progress and challenges to elimination.
As you know by now trachoma is one of the neglected tropical diseases. This one affects the eyes, it is miserable, it's debilitating, and it's stigmatizing, causes disability, low vision, and blindness. It disproportionately affects the poorest people in the world and not only does it affect them, it causes them to stay in poverty as it cycles within families. It affects eyes as we mentioned, but the eyes are in people, the people live in families, the families live in communities. Ultimately, it's a public health problem that affect nation-states. So because it is a national program in the affected countries that affects a large number of people, it is the desire of the country to eliminate blinding trachoma, and it's not going to be something that partners or donors can do. It's very important in all of these programs to remember that in order for them to be successful, the communities and the people in the communities have to want to be a part of the program. They are not passive recipients of our largesse, they are active consumers and active participants in a program that they want to see achieve.