Water, trachoma and conjunctivitis

Bull World Health Organ. 1989;67(1):9-18.


The incidence of eye infections in a community is generally accepted as an indicator of the adequacy of water supply for their needs. However, discrepancies in the published results from various studies seem to challenge this view. We have reanalysed the published data on trachoma in relation to the most relevant indicators of water accessibility, using prevalence ratios as the single parameter for risk assessment. A definite trend emerges from this review: the incidence of infectious conjunctivitis is not sensitive to differences in water accessibility; on the other hand, a reduction in the risk of trachoma is consistently associated with better access to water. This conclusion may support the efforts of WHO and other multilateral and bilateral agencies to sustain the commitment towards the water supply sector beyond the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate
  • Conjunctivitis / epidemiology*
  • Environment
  • Epidemiologic Methods / standards
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Risk Factors
  • Trachoma / epidemiology*
  • Water Supply*
  • World Health Organization