Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis.
It is a public health issue in Nauru and around the world, with 44 countries and 142 million people living in trachoma endemic areas and at risk of trachoma blindness, based on March 2019 data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Left untreated, repeated trachoma infections can result in permanent blindness, and data collected in Nauru over the past year has found the presence of trachoma follicles in children aged one to nine years is 23 per cent.
Infection spreads through personal contact (via hands, clothes or bedding) and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person.
With repeated episodes of infection over many years, the eyelashes may be drawn in so that they rub on the surface of the eye, with pain and discomfort and permanent damage to the cornea.
Nauru’s public health staff is using the WHO standard elimination strategy summarised by the acronym SAFE: surgery for advanced disease; antibiotics to clear chlamydia trachomatis infection; facial cleanliness and; environmental improvement to reduce transmission.
Health staff operate a mobile trachoma intervention strategy, which includes mass drug administration, in the evenings and on weekends, visiting districts and workplaces and positioned in shopping areas where there is a lot of passing foot traffic.
Individuals are given a painless eyelid examination and provided with an antibiotic treatment of azithromycin suspension liquid and tablets, and their patient details recorded.
Next stop for public health to reach 100 per cent national coverage includes examination and treatment of staff at RPC1, the government offices and the Nauru Police Force.
The World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA51.11 in 1998, targeting the global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem, and by 2018 global-level antibiotic coverage was 50 per cent.
Call Naoero Public Health on 557 3933 for more information and to ensure you and your family are included in Nauru’s strategy to eliminate trachoma.