Public health approaches to addressing trachoma

Introduction: Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis) and is the leading cause of preventable blindness globally. It is a disease rooted in poverty and remains endemic in several low- and middle-income countries, predominantly in the tropics, where determinants of health—including poor hygiene, sanitation, and living conditions—favour disease transmission. This paper aims to critically appraise the public health approaches addressing trachoma, namely implementation of the WHO ‘SAFE’ strategy, with reference to trachoma control in Tanzania.

Methods: Online databases were searched for literature containing relevant keywords. Literature sources included published data, peer-reviewed publications, and relevant grey literature.

Results: The SAFE strategy has been highly effective in reducing the global prevalence of trachoma. However, it has failed to reach its target of global elimination by 2020. Strengths of this approach include the dual focus on preventative and curative aspects of trachoma management and the GET2020 Alliance to aid state implementation. Challenges in trachoma management include the political landscape influencing global health governance and funding, as well as a pressing need for an intersectoral ‘Health in All Policies’ approach to address the social determinants of health perpetuating trachoma transmission.

Conclusions: An integrated, multisectoral approach to trachoma management with NTDs is required to attain increased and sustainable progress across the spectrum of NTDs, reduce the risk of resurgence, and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This progress can be achieved only by continuing to address the underlying determinants of health and utilising integrated management programs.

Visual impairment and blindness in a population-based study of Mashhad, Iran.

To determine the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness and related factors in the 1- to 90-year-old urban population of Mashhad.

In this cross-sectional study of 1- to 90-year-old residents of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, sampling was done through random stratified cluster sampling (120 clusters). After selecting the samples and their participation in the study, all subjects had vision testing including measurement of visual acuity and refraction, as well as examinations with the slit-lamp and ophthalmoscopy. Visual impairment (primary outcomes) was defined as a visual acuity worse than of 0.5 logMAR (20/60) in the better eye.

Of the 4453 selected persons, 3132 (70.4%) participated in the study. The prevalence of visual impairment based on presenting vision and best-corrected vision was 3.95% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.13–4.77) and 2.23 (95% CI: 1.54–2.91), respectively. The prevalence of presenting visual impairment increased from 1.59% in children under 5 years of age to 43.59% in people older than 65 years of age; these figures were respectively 1.59% and 42.31% based on corrected visual acuity. In the logistic regression model, older age (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04–1.07, P < 0.001), higher education (OR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.06–0.38, P < 0.001), and low income (OR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.21–1.72, P < 0.001) correlated with impaired sight. Based on presenting vision and best-corrected vision, the prevalence of blindness was 0.86% (95% CI: 0.51–1.22) and 0.32% (95% CI: 0.1–0.55). The most common causes of visual impairment were uncorrected refractive error (41.8%) and cataract (20%).

According to our findings, the prevalence of visual impairment was intermediate in comparison with other studies. The prevalence of visual impairment in our study was similar to the global average; however, it was markedly high at older ages. Nonetheless, refractive errors and cataracts remain as the main causes of impaired vision and blindness in this population, while these two conditions are easily treatable with correction or surgery.