Trachoma and Prevention of Blindness

PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre Spotlight Series

Reference Number: USA-443

Official Title: PAHO/WHO CC for Trachoma
Institution: Elimination and Control (Laboratory) Team, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Reference Number: USA-375

Official Title: PAHO/WHO CC for Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairments
Institution: Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Communicable diseases icon 

Program Area 1.4/2.4
Neglected, Tropical and Zoonotic Diseases / Disabilities and Rehabilitation

Dr. Martha Saboya

Dr. Martha Saboya, Advisor, Neglected Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Dr. Juan Silva, Advisor, Prevention of Blindness and Ocular Health, are the PAHO staff members who supports the WHO focal points to coordinate the collaboration between the institution and the Organization.

The main activities of these Centres include: (1) providing technical consultation on the use of serology for trachoma surveillance; (2) training laboratory technicians in Multiplex Bead Assay Platform; (3) supervising and providing technical support to national public health laboratories; (4) supporting the analysis surveys results using serology; (5) providing supplies to conduct tests; (6) supporting the formulation of protocols, conducting analysis and preparing manuscripts for publication; and (7) analyzing eye swab samples.

The Centre at CDC  hosted a three-week training for lab technicans from Mexico and Paraguay on using the Multiplex Bead Assay Platform for the strengthening of the serologic surveillance of trachoma and has supported the direct supervision, technical support and the analysis of results of serology surveys of national public health laboratories in Mexico and Paraguay. In addition, since 2018, the Centre has supported national laboratories in Guyana and Guatemala with training field teams for serologic surveys, developing and implementing surveys for trachoma, reviewing survey protocols, analyzing collected samples and providing supplies. Lastly, in October 2018, the Centre organized a technical consultation on the use of serology for trachoma surveillance by reviewing available data related to serological surveillance, discuss ongoing studies, and identifying knowledge gaps.

 Conducting field work for a trachoma population based survey, Guatemala.
From left to the right: Dr. Eugenio Maul, Dr. Juan Carlos Silva, Dr. Beatriz Muñoz, and Dr. Sheila West.

The Centre at Johns Hopkins has assisted in creating baseline data related to trachoma prevalence in Guatemala and Peru. In both instances, the Centre formulated protocols, analyzed the results and assisted in writing final reports. These studies are useful to PAHO to understand which interventions can be implemented for trachoma elimination in the Region. The Centre also participated in conducting a study on the Prevalence of refractive error and spectacle coverage in schoolchildren in two urban areas of Chile and Spectacle-wear compliance in school children in Concepción, Chile. Throughout these studies, the Centre assisted in developing the protocol, conducting the analysis and preparing a manuscript. Lastly, the Centre supports Brazil with the validation of lab testing for trachoma and supports the analysis of the prioritization scale to expand trachoma mapping in the Region.

Webnotes such as these serve to inform on how CCs are contributing to the Organization’s priorities and mandates.