Azithromycin use for trachoma control: Lessons learned from Tanzania

Sheila K. West, Harran Mkocha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, is a chronic conjunctivitis caused by repeated reinfections with Chlamydia trachomatis. Trachoma is a disease of entire communities, with the reservoir of infection residing in children, especially preschool children. The World Health Assembly has targeted the year 2020 for the elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health problem, and mass treatment with antibiotics is part of the multifaceted SAFE strategy recommended for country programs. Tanzania was one of the first countries to be the recipient of azithromycin for use in mass distribution programs and has been the site of a continuous research effort on trachoma control in the Kongwa district, the Kongwa Trachoma Project, since 1986. The authors discuss some events leading up to the use of azithromycin for trachoma, our experiences and lessons learned with use of azithromycin, intervention goals, achieving high coverage and the challenges to achieving elimination by 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Review of Ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Tanzania
  • azithromycin
  • ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection
  • population study
  • trachoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry


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