Better late than never: a national approach to trachoma control

Donna B Mak
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (10): 487-488.

New guidelines and funding for this preventable disease have been long awaited

In line with its Vision 2020 initiative, the World Health Organization adopted a resolution to eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020. To achieve this goal, WHO recommends the SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement) for countries implementing trachoma control programs. Australia is the only developed country of the 57 trachoma endemic countries listed by WHO.1

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  • Donna B Mak1,2,3

  • 1 Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Western Australian Department of Health, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Population and Preventive Health, School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA.
  • 3 Centre for International Health, Division of Health Sciences, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.


Thanks to the Kimberley community health nurses, Aboriginal health workers and community members who worked with me and taught me about trachoma control. Thanks to Aileen Plant for helpful comments on late drafts of this article.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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  • 2. Taylor HR. Trachoma in Australia. Med J Aust 2001; 175: 371-372. <MJA full text>
  • 3. Taylor V, Ewald D, Liddle H, Warchivker I. Review of the implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Program. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2003. Available at: (accessed Apr 2006).
  • 4. Stevens MP, Tabrizi SN, Muller R, et al. Characterisation of Chlamydia trachomatis omp1 genotypes detected in eye swab samples from remote Australian communities. J Clin Microbiol 2004; 42: 2501-2507.
  • 5. Porter MC, Mak DB, Chidlow G, et al. Molecular epidemiology of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infections in Western Australia: implications for trachoma control. J Infect Dis 2006. Submitted.
  • 6. Communicable Diseases Network Australia. Guidelines for the public health management of trachoma in Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2006. Available at: (accessed Apr 2006).
  • 7. Abbott T. New trachoma unit to combat eye disease. Media release ABB158/05. 6 Dec 2005. Available at: (accessed Apr 2006).
  • 8. World Health Organization. Report of the second global scientific meeting on trachoma. WHO/PDB/GET 03.1. Geneva, 25–27 August 2003.
  • 9. Leach AJ, Shelby-James TM, Mayo M, et al. A prospective study of the impact of community-based azithromycin treatment of trachoma on carriage and resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Clin Infect Dis 1997; 24: 356-362.
  • 10. Kuper H, Solomon AW, Buchan J, et al. A critical review of the SAFE strategy for the prevention of blinding trachoma. Lancet Infect Dis 2003; 3: 372-381.
  • 11. Australian Bureau of Statistics. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2005. Canberra: ABS, 2005. (ABS Catalogue No. 4704.0.)


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