PURPOSE: There are several settlements in the Northern and Western Regions of Uganda serving refugees from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), respectively. Trachoma prevalence surveys were conducted in a number of those settlements with the aim of determining whether interventions for trachoma are required.
METHODS: An evaluation unit (EU) was defined as all refugee settlements in one district. Cross-sectional population-based trachoma prevalence survey methodologies designed to adhere to World Health Organization recommendations were deployed in 11 EUs to assess prevalence of trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) in 1-9-year-olds and trachomatous trichiasis (TT) unknown to the health system in ≥15-year-olds. Household-level water, sanitation and hygiene coverage was also assessed in study populations.
RESULTS: A total of 40,892 people were examined across 11 EUs between 2018 and 2020. The prevalence of TF in 1-9-year-olds was <5% in all EUs surveyed. The prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) unknown to the health system in ≥15-year-olds was <0.2% in 5 out of 11 EUs surveyed and ≥0.2% in the remaining 6 EUs. A high proportion of households had improved water sources, but a low proportion had improved latrines or quickly (within a 30-minute return journey) accessible water sources.
CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of the antibiotic, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement components of the SAFE strategy is not needed for the purposes of trachoma's elimination as a public health problem in these refugee settlements; however, intervention with TT surgery is needed in six EUs. Since instability continues to drive displacement of people from South Sudan and DRC into Uganda, there is likely to be a high rate of new arrivals to the settlements over the coming years. These populations may therefore have trachoma surveillance needs that are distinct from the surrounding non-refugee communities.