PURPOSE: We aimed to estimate the prevalence of trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) in 1-9-year-olds and trachomatous trichiasis (TT) unknown to the health system in ≥15-year-olds in Benishangul Gumuz (BGZ) region, Ethiopia. This will help to assess progress towards the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem and determine the need for future interventions against trachoma in the region.
METHODS: Cross-sectional population-based trachoma prevalence surveys were conducted in four evaluation units (EUs) of BGZ using World Health Organization-recommended survey methodologies. Individuals were examined for clinical signs of trachoma. Household access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WaSH) was assessed.
RESULTS: A total of 11,778 people aged ≥1 year were examined. The prevalence of TF in 1-9-year-olds was <5% in three EUs and ≥5% in one EU. The prevalence of TT unknown to the health system in people aged ≥15-years was ≥0.2% in all four EUs. The proportion of households with an improved drinking water source within a 30-minute round-trip ranged from 27-60%. The proportion of households with an improved latrine ranged from <1-6%.
CONCLUSIONS: Surgical interventions for TT are required in all EUs in BGZ. One annual round of mass drug administration (MDA) of azithromycin is required in one EU before resurvey to reassess progress in lowering TF prevalence below the WHO elimination threshold of 5% in 1-9-year-olds. MDA should be stopped in the other three EUs and trachoma surveillance surveys should be conducted at least 24 months after the surveys described here. Ongoing strengthening of WaSH infrastructure may help sustain the low prevalence of trachoma.