The International Coalition for Trachoma Control’s global strategy to eliminate blinding trachoma indicates that at least 110 million people live in areas where trachoma is endemic.
About 4.6 million are in the advanced stages, trichiasis, which steadily and painfully progresses into blindness. Another 210 million people live in areas where there are strong indications of trachoma prevalence. In those areas, an additional 3.6 million cases of trichiasis can be expected.
The SAFE strategy (which stands for surgery, antibiotics, face washing and environmental changes) acknowledges the need to address trachoma within the context of international development. Treatment, through delivery of the surgery and antibiotics components, is just one side of the control, prevention and elimination of the disease. The face washing and environmental changes components, which rely on collaboration with sectors outside of neglected tropical disease (NTD) control, are also essential.
For example, engagement with ministries of education and the water and sanitation community are vital in order to ensure the face washing and environmental changes components are well aligned with trachoma and broader NTD plans, and to ensure the full SAFE package is delivered. By doing this, ‘extensive research has shown that the four-pronged WHO endorsed SAFE strategy can be effective to eliminate trachoma in vulnerable populations.’