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Strengthening the links between mapping, planning and global engagement for disease elimination: lessons learnt from trachoma
  1. Paul Courtright1,
  2. Lisa A Rotondo2,
  3. Chad MacArthur1,
  4. Iain Jones3,
  5. Angela Weaver4,
  6. Biruck Kebede Negash5,
  7. Nicholas Olobio6,
  8. Kamal Binnawi7,
  9. Simon Bush8,
  10. Mariamo Abdala9,
  11. Danny Haddad10,
  12. Astrid Bonfield11,
  13. Paul Emerson12,
  14. Virginia Sarah13,
  15. Anthony W Solomon14
  1. 1 Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, Division of Ophthalmology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2 RTI International, Washington, DC, USA
  3. 3 Department for International Development, London, UK
  4. 4 United States Agency for International Development, Washington, DC, USA
  5. 5 Federal Ministry of Health, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  6. 6 Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria
  7. 7 Ministry of Health and Alneelain University, Khartoum, Sudan
  8. 8 Sightsavers, Accra, Ghana
  9. 9 Nacional Eye Care Program, Ministério da Saude de Mozambique, Maputo, Mozambique
  10. 10 Orbis International, New York, New York, USA
  11. 11 The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, London, UK
  12. 12 International Trachoma Initiative, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  13. 13 International Coalition for Trachoma Control and The Fred Hollows Foundation, London, UK
  14. 14 Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to DrPaulCourtright, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, Division of Ophthalmology, H53 OMB Groote Schuur Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa; pcourtright{at}


Background Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness. Until recently, reliable data on the global extent of the disease, detailed plans for elimination, and government, donor and partner engagement were all inadequate.

Methods The trachoma community undertook a systematic, three-pronged strategy to map trachoma district by district, develop national-level trachoma elimination plans, and create a framework for governments, donors and partners to convene and coordinate in support of trachoma elimination. 

Result There has been a frame-shift in internal and external perceptions of the global trachoma programme, from being an effort working towards disease control in focussed geographical areas, to one in the process of achieving worldwide disease elimination. Multiple factors contributed to the successful implementation of mapping, planning, and cross-sectional engagement of governments, partners and donors.

Conclusions Elimination of trachoma is possible if the right combination of factors is in place. Planning for success is a critical first step. Some remaining challenges must still be addressed if the elimination targets are to be successfully attained.

  • Public health
  • Epidemiology

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  • Contributors PC and AWS were responsible for manuscript conception and initial outline. LAR, CM, IJ, AW, BKN, NO, KB, SB, MA, DH, AB, PE and VS contributed to manuscript drafting. All authors approved the final version to be published.

  • Funding The development of this paper received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. 

  • Disclaimer The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this article and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions or policies of the institutions with which they are affiliated. AWS is a staff member of WHO.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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