The challenges of trachoma, access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and poverty are mutually reinforcing.
They highlight the need for a holistic approach to development that tackles both the symptoms and the underlying causes of poverty and ill-health. With the increasing pressure on government and aid resources, it is critical that integrated approaches are implemented to deliver better value for money and, more crucially, sustainable, long term impact.
Recent disease control successes have shown what can be achieved through collaboration; however, the gains that have been made are fragile. As long as the risk factors such as environments contaminated by human and animal waste, poor hygiene practices and poverty remain, there is a risk of trachoma returning to communities that have been declared disease-free after medical interventions. The fact that trachoma elimination was achieved in European countries without the use of antibiotics serves as a reminder of the need for comprehensive approaches to disease control.