Will the SAFE strategy be sufficient to eliminate trachoma by 2020? Puzzlements and possible solutions.
Since the inception of (the Global Elimination of Blinding Trachoma) GET 2020 in 1997 and the implementation of the SAFE strategy a year later, much progress has been made toward lowering the prevalence of trachoma worldwide with elimination of the disease in some countries. However, high recurrence of trichiasis after surgery, difficulty in controlling the reemergence of infection after mass distribution of azithromycin in some communities, the incomplete understanding of environment in relation to the disease, and the difficulty in establishing the prevalence of the disease in low endemic areas are some of the issues still facing completion of the GET 2020 goals. In this narrative review, literature was searched from 1998 to January 2013 in PubMed for original studies and reviews. Reasons for these ongoing problems are discussed, and several suggestions are made as avenues for exploration in relation to improving the SAFE strategy with emphasis on improving surgical quality and management of the mass treatment with antibiotics. In addition, more research needs to be done to better understand the approach to improve sanitation, hygiene, and environment. The main conclusion of this review is that scale-up is needed for all SAFE components, and more research should be generated from communities outside of Africa and Asia.