Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsHello, and welcome to this course on eliminating trachoma. We are excited to be able to offer this course to a wide audience across the globe. It is a unique opportunity to come together, discover, and discuss practical approaches to eliminating a disease that has been a challenge and a major infectious cause of blindness for many centuries. Over the next five weeks we will describe and discuss key approaches through videos, articles, and conversations on what and where is the problem, who is affected, how can we reach and treat the affected communities through surgery, antibiotic distribution, and support the development of water and sanitation.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsCentral to this intervention strategy is knowing what data is required and how it should be used to plan and manage the implementation of the SAFE strategy and the elimination process. Throughout the course we have designed many opportunities to learn from each other and also from experts in this field. So we encourage you to share your opinions, even relevant photographs, and network within this course to learn from conversations. Professor Foster and myself are the lead educators on the course, but we will also be joined by expert facilitators through each of the weeks. Please do share your profiles, and take the pre-course survey, as it will guide us to understand and support your key goal for taking this course.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 secondsWe will start off first week by looking closely at what is trachoma? Its aetiology and clinical diagnosis, and grading of the disease presentation. We will assess the magnitude of trachoma, and understand the international commitment to eliminate the disease. Trachoma does not occur everywhere, and it is therefore important to understand how mapping is done to identify the affected populations. And what this means to help us target interventions for elimination.

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 secondsAnthony Solomon from the WHO will be joining us as a facilitator on this course. At the end of the week, we will collate all the key thoughts and points from your conversations and create a summary document for reference.

Welcome to the course and week 1

“Trachoma affects people living in remote and rural communities, usually in abject poverty. It is one of the most unfair diseases in the world, blinding people who have the least to start with and making them poorer.” WHO GET 2020 Alliance. Eliminating Trachoma: Accelerating Towards 2020

Trachoma is often a life long struggle. Initial infection often occurs in early childhood, followed by episodes of recurring infection, creating a “pool of infection” within the family. Prolonged risk to infection eventually leaves an untreated person with irreversible loss of vision. Over 181 million people are at risk of this tragic disease across 42 countries.

These individual tragedies coalesce into community challenges which have far reaching impact on wider social and economic development.

Woman and two children, Ethiopia Many trachoma sufferers are mothers with children © Michael Amendolia/The Fred Hollows Foundation CC BY-NC-SA

The human cost of trachoma occurs when vision loss or blindness leads to loss of social status, stigmatization and reclusion from society. The economic burden on individuals, families and communities is enormous. Eliminating trachoma will bring benefits at both the human and economic levels.

Trachoma is a disabling disease, but it is also readily preventable. Extensive research has shown that a four-pronged strategy of surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements (SAFE), can be effective to eliminate trachoma in endemic regions.

For the first time since trachoma was documented, we are in a unique position to decisively help vulnerable populations. In addition, there is a decisive collaboration between national and international partners to roll out support, resources and expertise to achieve elimination by the year 2020.

What will we learn

The main aim of this course is to enable key stakeholders and health providers to become directly involved in scaling up services for the SAFE strategy at a local level for the treatment and prevention of trachoma.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  1. Assess the natural history, clinical signs and grading of trachoma
  2. Describe the evidence from global mapping of trachoma
  3. Reflect on the public health approach for the control of trachoma
  4. Evaluate the planning and coordination of trachoma mapping and control activities at community, district, national and global levels
  5. Discuss how epidemiological data provides guidance for interventions and setting local targets
  6. Interpret the four elements of the SAFE strategy to control trachoma
  7. Apply monitoring and evaluation activities of SAFE interventions for the validation and certification of elimination of trachoma at district and national level

Throughout the five weeks, we will use articles, mini-lectures, interviews with experts, and provide links to further reading. We encourage you to assess your learning through quizzes and share your experiences and views through discussions with fellow learners and the course team. Join the conversation, apply your learning at a local level and together we can eliminate trachoma!

In this first week, we will look closely at the infectious cycle of trachoma and its clinical features before we expand the picture to understand how the Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP) has assessed the magnitude and distribution of this disease. The GTMP data has formed the baseline from which the elimination strategy is being implemented.

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Eliminating Trachoma

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: