Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands, 65 of which are inhabited, with about 1,300km between its northern and southern-most points. The population of Vanuatu is approximately 267,000. The Global Trachoma Mapping Project indicated an insignificant rate of trichiasis, despite relatively high rates of trachoma infection.
What we’re doing about it
Vanuatu’s existing health system is able to address the number of trichiasis surgeries required. Instead our focus is on prevention, through a Trachoma Action Plan and supported by a National Trachoma Taskforce. The SAFE strategy will be regionally coordinated with other countries in the Pacific (Solomon Islands, Fiji and Kiribati), with the principal aims of distributing antibiotics and persuading the many water and sanitation NGOs to include face washing in their campaigns.
Progress so far
The National Trachoma Program is currently the responsibility of the national Neglected Tropical Diseases coordinator within the Ministry of Health, who led the recent mapping activities. A National Trachoma Coordinator and a Trachoma Taskforce will be put in place over the coming months. A Trachoma Action Plan workshop is planned for October 2015 with the support of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Planning is underway for a round of antibiotic distribution in August 2016.