Trachoma is the world's leading cause of blindness, yet
very simple hygiene behaviors – frequent face and hand washing, use of one’s
own towel, and improved domestic sanitation – prevent the transmission of the
bacteria that infects the eye.
By adapting its skills in rural marketing from product
related promotion to preventive health promotion, IDE is participating in a
multi-organizational effort spearheaded by the World Health Organization to
eradicate blinding trachoma by the year 2020.
IDE has designed a sophisticated social marketing
campaign, which it is conducting alongside local government partners to reach a
target audience of 1.8 million people across six provinces in northern Vietnam.
IDE is employing innovative strategies that include diverse audio, video, and
print materials, schools programs, and women's union meetings to encourage the
adoption of targeted improved hygiene habits. In addition, IDE is partnering
with Helen Keller International to install water and sanitation facilities in
schools throughout the target areas.
IDE’s social marketing project is a component of a
larger effort funded and coordinated by the International Trachoma Initiative
that includes the distribution of an antibiotic and surgery for the most severe
cases of infection. The program has achieved remarkable results. Trachoma
rates in all project districts have fallen under 5%, the threshold level below
which the scientific community believes the bacteria cannot sustain itself.