A systematic review of historical and contemporary evidence of trachoma endemicity in the Pacific Islands

15 Nov 2018
Handley BL, Roberts Ch, Butcher R,

Introduction: Trachoma is endemic in several Pacific Island countries. The aims of this study were to (a) identify future trachoma mapping needs in the Pacific and (b) to examine whether any temporal trends in trachoma prevalence could be ascertained from the historical literature on trachoma in the Pacific Islands.

Methods: Human studies of trachoma and eye care in the Pacific Islands were identified from a systematic search of PubMed, EMbase, Scopus and Web of Science databases. A published quality assessment system for disease prevalence studies was modified to assess studies for quality and transparency.

Results: Few general ophthalmic studies in the Pacific mention trachoma. In targeted studies of trachoma, cases have consistently been identified throughout the Pacific since the early twentieth century. The largest number of studies come from Papua New Guinea and Fiji, whereas some countries have no published data on trachoma. The majority of studies identified were published before the Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma 2020 was convened, so lack the standardisation of population-based mapping which has been implemented in the past decade.

Conclusions: Population-based trachoma prevalence estimates have been recently generated in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Fiji. There is insufficient evidence to assess whether there has been temporal change in trachoma prevalence in these countries over the past century. Cases of trachoma have been identified in some countries (for example, Nauru and Samoa) which have no recent population-based mapping data, but may be at risk of trachoma endemcitiy. Deployment of appropriate mapping strategies is warranted to identify whether interventions are required.