Title : Disease prevention through the promotion of healthy environments, Trachoma: A Public Health Problem
Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world. Caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, recurrent episodes of infection during childhood lead to severe conjunctival inflammation, followed by scarring, and consequent rubbing of the eyelashes on the cornea, increase the likelihood of blindness in later life.
An estimated 137 million people are at risk of blindness from trachoma, mainly affecting marginalized people on the African continent. To reduce the transmission of the infection and eliminate trachoma as a Public Health problem, the World Health Organization has developed an integrated strategy consisting of surgery to correct trichiasis, antibiotic administration, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement, known as the SAFE strategy.
The risk factors for trachoma are closely linked to lack of access to adequate water and sanitation and inadequate hygiene practices in communities, and it can be transmitted by routes such as direct person-to person contact, the vector Musca sorbens, and contact with fomites such as cloths and clothing. Great efforts have been made to implement the trachoma control strategy. However, the important role that the promotion of a healthy environment plays in fighting and preventing trachoma is not given the same value as antibiotic therapy.
Currently, trachoma remains endemic in 45 countries, so investment and the formation of intersectoral partnerships for the promotion and health education of proper face and hand hygiene, provision of latrines, and installation of water sources in at-risk communities, coupled with the antibiotic distribution and surgeryprograms in place, are essential to the success of the SAFE strategy and the elimination of trachoma as a Public Health problem.