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Trachoma, the world's leading infectious cause of blindness: The remaining gap in care and access to basic handwashing facilities


Purpose: Trachoma, the world's leading infectious cause of blindness, has been targeted by the WHO for elimination through the SAFE strategy: surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement. Although significant progress has been made, there remains a gap in care. This project studied the association of geographical distribution of the remaining need for trachoma intervention and its association with access to basic handwashing facilities at home, as an indicator of water/sanitation infrastructure. We hypothesized that poor water sanitation would correspond to areas where trachoma intervention is still required. Design: Retrospective analysis using the WHO Global Health Observatory. Spatial, correlation, and simple and multivariable regression analyses were used. Methods Using data from the WHO Global Health Observatory, a total of 194 countries were analyzed. Two choropleth maps were created, with inset maps focused on the South Pacific region, where the top 5 countries with the greatest population proportion requiring trachoma intervention are located. Results: Correlations and the simple regression model of total population with access to handwashing facilities as the only risk factor were insignificant. However, the multivariable regression models with access to handwashing facilities (total, urban, and rural) and population density as risk factors for trachoma intervention were significant. Conclusion: Poor water/sanitation infrastructure correlates with trachoma burden. Therefore, water/sanitation infrastructure improvement is a worthwhile target in the efforts toward trachoma elimination, but further research on the association between these important public health indicators is warranted.

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Journal Article
Reynolds MM