ITI is a program of The Task Force for Global Health.
Tanzania has been known to be endemic for many years and efforts to control trachoma date back to the 1980’s with both Helen Keller International (HKI) and Johns Hopkins (JHU) conducting programs and research respectively. The goal of one JHU study was to determine why some families were free of trachoma while others were chronically inflicted. The study looked at transmission of the disease, the role of fly control as well as that of personal hygiene with the intention of using the data to develop and test a new public health intervention. This research led to community intervention trials for face-washing. These efforts would eventually factor into the conception of the SAFE strategy - the four prong WHO endorsed strategy that is now the foundation of all trachoma control programs. Tanzania was one of the three countries along with Egypt and the Gambia to participate in the Azithromycin in the Control of Trachoma (ACT) clinical trials which eventually led to the inclusion of azithromycin as the drug of choice for the A of the SAFE strategy. This in turn spurred the donation of Zithromax® by Pfizer and the establishment of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI).
Though trachoma has long been recognized as a public health problem in Tanzania, a national effort to map the disease did not take place until 2004 continuing on into 2006. Fifty districts were identified as being endemic, having a TF prevalence of greater than 10%. Further baseline mapping has been conducted since 2012/2013 and a number of districts have also conducted impact surveys following the requisite rounds of Zithromax® distribution. The recent data indicates that Tanzania has made enormous progress in the reduction of active trachoma with only 16 districts currently above the 5% threshold defining a public health problem.
Tanzania was one of the first countries to receive the Zithromax® donation, beginning MDA in 1999 in the Kongwa District. In 2010, trachoma was shifted from the National Eye Care Program to the NTD program. With the NTD program’s experience in MDAs the country has made significant progress in treatment witnessed by the number of districts no longer requiring drug. Tanzania’s target year of elimination is 2020.
Currently Tanzania benefits from funding from USAID for MDA with Zithromax®, and funding from DFID and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (Trust) for trichiasis management.
Zithromax® Shipments by Year