IS ETHIOPIA ON TRACK TO ACHIEVING THE GLOBAL GOAL OF ELIMINATING TRACHOMA AS A PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM BY 2020?
Background: Trachoma is slated for global elimination as a public health problem by 2020. Ethiopia carries 1/3rd of the global burden of trachoma. This paper aims to explore whether Ethiopia is on track to achieve the stated goal.
Methods: A qualitative research method was applied. Review of relevant literature and in-depth interviews with 15 key informants was carried out involving experts and program managers drawn from governmental and non-governmental organizations at national and sub-national levels in the four big regions of the country. Open-ended interview guide was used and interviews were tape-recorded.
Results: The Global and national burden of trachoma was reviewed and analyzed. If all goes as planned, a minimum of 161 districts will receive their final round of MDA in 2020. The status of the country program in scaling up trachoma interventions since 2013 was assessed. There were mixed views expressed by study participants whether Ethiopia is on track to achieve the global goal of elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health problem by 2020. The Minister’s TT (trachomatous trichiasis) backlog clearing initiative has been identified as a precursor for attaining the target set for TT elimination in the country even before 2020.
Conclusion: If the new scale up plans are implemented as stipulated in the national trachoma action plan and the Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), Ethiopia could be so close to achieving elimination of trachoma as a public health problem by 2020 at least in those moderately endemic (TF<30%) districts. Additional financial resources should be sought for a complete scale up of SAFE interventions in all known remaining endemic districts by 2016/17.
Key words: trachoma, elimination, Ethiopia, GET2020, SAFE strategy
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