May 21, 2013
1 min read

SAFE strategy to eliminate blinding trachoma by year 2020

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — The World Health Organization has recommended the SAFE strategy to help eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020, according to a physician here.

“We are very excited that trachoma is on the radar screen, and we have hopes for 2020,” Sheila West, PhD, said at the American Ophthalmological Society meeting.

Trachoma is a chronic conjunctivitis caused by repeated episodes of infection with chlamydia trachomatis, West said.

Sheila West, PhD

Sheila West

The components of SAFE are surgery, antibiotics, face washing and environmental change.

Trachiasis surgery can improve vision as well as quality of life, and this surgery can be performed by medical assistants and eye nurses, West said.

“This is critical that we have a surgical technique that can be done by people who are in these communities,” she said.

After surgery, treatment with a single dose of azithromycin has been shown to reduce the recurrence of trichiasis by almost 30%, according to West.

In order to meet the needs of trachoma elimination by 2020, SAFE trachoma programs need to be under way before 2015 in many countries, and the possibility of trachoma re-emergence or causes that hinder the elimination progress must be understood.

“With the increasing interest in neglect of tropical diseases, there are a huge number of partners coming on board now with funds and that has really emerged the push,” West said.

Disclosure: West has no relevant financial disclosures.