Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis that can cause irreversible blindness. It remains endemic in many tropical countries and there are currently around 1.9 million people worldwide who have been blinded or visually impaired by the disease. Progress has been made towards elimination in recent years, but questions remain concerning particular contexts for mass drug administration (MDA), facial cleanliness and environmental improvement.

children walking, Guinea
Photo credit Dominic Chavez, World Bank

Since 2012, a number of countries have been validated by WHO as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem since 2011 based on expanded control measures under the ‘SAFE’ strategy. Its impact can vary, and for some countries, it has been difficult to achieve elimination status despite years of MDA treatment.

  • Surgery for advanced disease
  • Antibiotics to clear C. trachomatis infection
  • Facial cleanliness
  • Environmental improvement to reduce transmission

Global data platform scoping and feasibility study

In collaboration with WHO and the global trachoma research community, IDDO is assessing the feasibility of developing a data platform for trachoma intervention studies. Funded by the Conrad N.Hilton Foundation, part of this scoping exercise includes a review of evidence contained in clinical studies to identify factors associated with the effectiveness of antibiotic MDA by implementing an aggregated data meta-analysis that has previously been impossible due to the heterogeneity of reported outcomes.

As part of a concerted effort towards global trachoma elimination, developing a global data platform to collate and standardise individual-level patient data (IPD) could generate additional evidence to answer key research questions in the journey towards trachoma elimination. This scoping study will assess factors associated with greater or lesser effectiveness of antibiotic MDA in Ethiopia and Niger, as the two countries with the highest identified evaluation units with recrudescence following the implementation of the ‘SAFE’ strategy.

If feasible, building a global trachoma data platform will require extensive collaboration. We are looking to engage with stakeholders and leaders in the trachoma research community as early as possible to ensure that the design, purpose and future output of a data platform meets the interests and fulfils the needs of potential partners, researchers and policy makers.

Please contact trachoma@iddo.org for further information about this scoping project.