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Sunday 27th May 2018

Call to help blindness

15th August 2006

15082006_africainject1.jpgA Lancet editorial reports that Trachoma, the largest infectious cause of blindness worldwide, is endemic in some of the most disadvantaged populations in low-income settings; yet rigorous adherence to a simple strategy of control offers the prospect of complete elimination within a decade or so.

Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, the current recommended regimen for control of Trachoma is called SAFE: surgery (for cases of trichiasis), antibiotics, face washing (to reduce transmission), and environmental change. The Lancet reports good and bad news about attempts to control this entirely preventable ocular infection.

Sudan is particularly in need of trachoma control strategies, with almost 4 million people in need of antibiotic treatment. The Lancet reports on the results of a 3-year programme of SAFE across five Sudanese sites, where there were substantial falls in prevalence where SAFE was effectively implemented.

Secondly they report a randomised trial in Tanzania to test whether insecticide spraying to control fly populations after mass antibiotic treatment could reduce trachoma rates still further. Unfortunately, there was no discernible benefit 6 months after treatment.

The Lancet concludes that trachoma is a neglected disease and that although interventions are available to control it, and although there is some scientific effort to understand an infection that affects some of the most marginalised of peoples, further financial support and interest is required.

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