Date of Award

Winter 12-14-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Christine Stauber

Second Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Strasser


BACKGROUND: Trachoma is a leading cause of avoidable blindness. Currently, trachoma is endemic in 57 countries, infects approximately 84 million people globally, and continues to threaten over 10 % of the world’s population with the risk of blindness. Caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, blindness due to trachoma is caused by repeated eye infection resulting in the inflammation of the upper eyelid eventually leading the upper lid to pull inward scratching and tearing the cornea causing it to become opaque resulting in loss of vision. The World Health Organization recommends eliminating trachoma as a public health problem using the SAFE strategy: Surgery, Antibiotic, Face washing and Environmental control.

OBJECTIVES: This review examined the benefits of the added value of water, sanitation, and hygiene education interventions on preventive mass drug administration for trachoma.

METHODS: Trials were identified from MEDLINE, PubMed, and LISTA EBSCO databases using a series of search terms. No restrictions were put on study date, location, design, or language of publication. The abstracts were examined from each of the searches, and any abstract describing risk factors, survey results of mass drug administration (MDA), or providing a general overview of trachoma were automatically discarded. Full text of papers including the combined use of key words including SAFE, WASH, intervention, impact, added value, MDA, azithromycin/ Zithromax® were obtained for review. Twelve full texts articles were retrieved all relevant information were placed in a standardized data extraction form.

MAIN RESULTS: Three studies met the complete criteria for inclusion. All studies found a significant change in reduction of active trachoma prevalence. One study focused on the added benefit of antibiotic and environmental components on hygiene education delivered by radio. Another trial compared two villages; the control community performed MDA and the surgery while the intervention village added the F and E components. The final study as well focused the added benefit of ‘F’ and ‘E’ on ‘A’. Two of the three studies found this reduction was from the added benefit of face washing ‘F’ and environmental control ‘E’ to antibiotic use.

CONCLUSIONS: In order to eliminate blinding trachoma as a public health problem, recurrence of the active form of the disease must be interrupted before repeated scarring leads to trichiasis. The antibiotic component of the SAFE strategy is a quick fix to the immediate problem. The ‘F’ and ‘E’ components are the more sustainable interventions, yet little research has been done on the actual amount of added value the individual ‘A’‘F’&’E’ components have to one another. After thorough review of the articles, articles were found which documented the ‘F’ and ‘E’ components provide significant value to the overall decrease of prevalence of active. However, the limited results of the search suggest more research can better elucidate the ability of the ‘F’ and ‘E’ components to reduce trachoma prevalence and ultimately impact blinding.


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Public Health Commons