Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that approximately 5.9 million persons are blind or have severe vision-loss as a result of trachoma, and another 10 million are at high risk. Trachoma preferentially affects the most deprived communities, and within these communities, women and children bear the brunt of the burden. In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on research and heightened enthusiasm for strengthening trachoma control programs in afflicted countries. WHO has convened an alliance of member countries, non-governmental organizations, and other partners for the Global Elimination of Blinding Trachoma by the year 2020, and endorsed the multi-faceted SAFE strategy for trachoma control. SAFE - Surgery, Antibiotics, Face-washing, and Environmental improvement - has incorporated sound research on elements likely to reduce trachoma, and trachomatis blindness, in endemic communities. This review summarizes current knowledge about trachoma and its causative agent, Chlamydia trachomatis, the epidemiology and risk factors for trachoma as a prelude to reviewing the SAFE strategy. While ongoing research to support the knowledge base for SAFE must continue to be a priority, the full implementation of SAFE is the best hope for countries to reduce the global burden of blindness from this preventable cause.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems