National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit

Date Commenced:
Project Status
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters

Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA)

Currently recruiting
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About the Project

National surveillance of trachoma and evaluation of trachoma control strategies in Aboriginal communities within Australia.


Australia is the only developed country where trachoma is still endemic. It occurs primarily in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The Australian Government, in accordance with the GET 2020 initiative and the Closing the Gap initiative, through the Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes measure, committed $16 million over a four-year period towards eliminating trachoma in Australia. The funding is to be used for improving and expanding screening and control activities, as well as establishing a strong framework for monitoring and evaluation.

The National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit (NTSRU) is responsible for trachoma data collation, analysis and reporting related to the ongoing surveillance of trachoma and evaluation of trachoma control strategies in Australia. The primary focus is the three jurisdictions that have been funded to undertake trachoma control activities by the Australian Government.

  • To develop and implement new surveillance systems and analyse procedures.
  • To monitor the pattern of prevalence of trachoma in Australia through national surveillance.
  • To monitor control activities and risk factors related to the prevalence of trachoma in Australia.
  • To provide advice and support, and facilitate communication with jurisdictional units and individuals who undertake surveillance and control activities.
  • Provides secretariat to the National Trachoma Reference Group.
  • To continue the produce the annual Australian Trachoma Surveillance Report.
Design & Method

Key findings of trachoma surveillance data are presented by tabulations and charts summarising the prevalence of trachoma, risk factors, and control measures in remote and rural Aboriginal communities by State and Territory, region and age group, including trends over time. The NTSRU also functions as the secretariat for the National Trachoma Surveillance Reference Group (NTSRG). The NTSRG includes representation from the  health authorities of the three State and Territories where trachoma is known to be endemic; the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Australian Government; organisations representing affected communities; and specialist advisors and the Kirby Institute.  The reference group meets at least three times a year, with an annual face to face meeting.

  • Ongoing.
  • Baseline reporting of NSW and QLD will be included in the 2012 Report, following survey results produced by Hugh Taylor identified pockets of Trachoma in Far West NSW and Far North QLD.
  • An in-house database with web interface is being developed for electronic data transfer.
  • The NTSRU is also currently undertaking a mathematical natural history and transmission model for trachoma in Australia. This exercise will establish whether Australia under current guidelines and agreements are on track to meet the goal of eliminating blinding trachoma by 2020.
  • The National Trachoma Reference Group is working with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) to update the current guidelines.
  • Community-targeted interventions with community involvement through the primary health care approach.
  • Engagement with the local community, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people.
  • Establishment and maintenance of a health workforce with knowledge, skills and experience in trachoma control.
Project Members
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Professor and Program Head
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0961
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Associate Professor and Program Head
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - 1343180709 Carleight Cowling New
Senior Surveillance Officer – Trachoma
image - 1338435281 Andrew Shattock Sepph
Research Assistant
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
Other Investigators

Tom Snelling

Project Collaborators: External

Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Department of Health and Ageing

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT, WA and SA

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

Country Health South Australia

Health Department of Western Australia

The University of Melbourne

Western Australia Country Health Service

National Trachoma Reference Group

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Communicable Diseases Network Australia