## Abstract

Background

As the prevalences of neglected tropical diseases reduce to low levels in some countries, policymakers require precise disease estimates to decide whether the set public health targets have been met. At low prevalence levels, traditional statistical methods produce imprecise estimates. More modern geospatial statistical methods can deliver the required level of precision for accurate decision-making.

Methods

Using spatially referenced data from 3567 cluster locations in Ethiopia in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, we developed a geostatistical model to estimate the prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis and to calculate the probability that the trachomatous trichiasis component of the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem has already been achieved for each of 482 evaluation units. We also compared the precision of traditional and geostatistical approaches by the ratios of the lengths of their 95% predictive intervals.

Results

The elimination threshold of trachomatous trichiasis (prevalence ≤ 0.2% in individuals aged ≥15 years) is met with a probability of 0.9 or more in 8 out of the 482 evaluation units assessed, and with a probability of ≤0.1 in 469 evaluation units. For the remaining five evaluation units, the probability of elimination is between 0.45 and 0.65. Prevalence estimates were, on average, 10 times more precise than estimates obtained using the traditional approach.

Conclusions

By accounting for and exploiting spatial correlation in the prevalence data, we achieved remarkably improved precision of prevalence estimates compared with the traditional approach. The geostatistical approach also delivers predictions for unsampled evaluation units that are geographically close to sampled evaluation units.

As the prevalences of neglected tropical diseases reduce to low levels in some countries, policymakers require precise disease estimates to decide whether the set public health targets have been met. At low prevalence levels, traditional statistical methods produce imprecise estimates. More modern geospatial statistical methods can deliver the required level of precision for accurate decision-making.

Methods

Using spatially referenced data from 3567 cluster locations in Ethiopia in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, we developed a geostatistical model to estimate the prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis and to calculate the probability that the trachomatous trichiasis component of the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem has already been achieved for each of 482 evaluation units. We also compared the precision of traditional and geostatistical approaches by the ratios of the lengths of their 95% predictive intervals.

Results

The elimination threshold of trachomatous trichiasis (prevalence ≤ 0.2% in individuals aged ≥15 years) is met with a probability of 0.9 or more in 8 out of the 482 evaluation units assessed, and with a probability of ≤0.1 in 469 evaluation units. For the remaining five evaluation units, the probability of elimination is between 0.45 and 0.65. Prevalence estimates were, on average, 10 times more precise than estimates obtained using the traditional approach.

Conclusions

By accounting for and exploiting spatial correlation in the prevalence data, we achieved remarkably improved precision of prevalence estimates compared with the traditional approach. The geostatistical approach also delivers predictions for unsampled evaluation units that are geographically close to sampled evaluation units.

Original language | English |
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Article number | dyab227 |

Journal | International Journal of Epidemiology |

Early online date | 13 Nov 2021 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | Published - 13 Nov 2021 |