23rd Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting
The 23rd meeting of the Trachoma Expert Committee (TEC) was held virtually on January 22, 2021. Dr. Babar Qureshi, Director of NTDs and Senior Medical Advisor at CBM International, presided as TEC Chair. Observers included implementing partners and colleagues from WHO, Pfizer, ICTC’s Executive Group, and USAID. During the meeting, country representatives from Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria presented on how they are safely conducting mass drug administration (MDA) and surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, ITI shipped more than 31.1 million treatments to 12 different countries (Cameroon, CAR, Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niger, South Sudan, Sudan, Zimbabwe). As of January 21, 2021, 9 million doses were shipped which brought the cumulative number of Zithromax® doses shipped since 1999 to 928.9 million. Of 128 districts with impact surveys in 2020, 74 (57.8%) achieved the elimination target of TF1-9 <5%, totaling 13.3 million people no longer warranting MDA. As of January 2021, there were 138 million people living in trachoma-endemic districts, with Ethiopia contributing to 51.5% of the estimated global burden.
In addition to hearing presentations on safely implementing trachoma program activities during a pandemic, TEC members enjoyed a presentation on the findings of the 2019-2020 observational assessment of MDA in Ethiopia by Allan Ciciriello, ITI’s Assistant Program Coordinator. TEC 23 wrapped up with a rich discussion on accelerating towards 2030, focusing on COVID-19 mitigation & how to manage "persistent trachoma”.
TEC 23 also paid tribute to Dr. Julius Schachter and his tremendous role in the work to end trachoma in the world. Dr. David Addiss led the group through a meditation on the loss of Dr. Schachter and emphasized the importance of taking time to be grateful for our inspirational colleagues.
TEC 24 is currently planned for June 8-10, 2021 as a virtual meeting.