To the Editor: Trachoma control guidelines from the World Health Organization1 and Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA)2 recommend the “SAFE” strategy that includes surgery for trichiasis, antibiotic treatment, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. Lack of access to antibiotics in isolated areas should not be a major contributor to the persistence of trachoma in Australia because special Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme arrangements (SPBSA) under section 100 of the National Health Act 1953 for the supply of medicines to remote-area Indigenous health services should enable a ready availability of azithromycin. The 1999–00 to 2001–02 evaluation of the SPBSA suggested that the program had led to major increases in the supply of medicines in remote areas, but that the supply of azithromycin did not change as a result of the introduction of the program.3
- 1. Trachoma control: a guide for programme managers. Geneva: World Health Organization, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, International Trachoma Initiative, 2006.
- 2. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Guidelines for the public health management of trachoma in Australia. Canberra: Communicable Diseases Network Australia, 2006.
- 3. Kelaher M, Dunt D, Taylor-Thomson D, et al. Improving access to medicines among clients of remote area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services. Aust N Z J Public Health 2006; 30: 177-183.
- 4. Tellis B, Fotis K, Dunn R, et al. National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit. Trachoma surveillance report 2008. Melbourne: Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, 2009.
- 5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Household and family composition. 2010. http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/526FE126443EBCC6CA257718001D547F/$File/47130_2006_reissue.pdf (accessed Dec 2010.)
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