Reaching global health milestone: Gambia eliminated trachoma as a public health problem

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA:- The Gambia has reached a global health milestone by eliminating devastating eye disease called trachoma as a public health problem, the Heath Ministry announced Tuesday.

Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness and is part of a group of conditions known as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

“The Government of The Gambia is very pleased to inform the general public and its development partners that The Gambia has now eliminated trachoma as a public health problem,” the ministry said in a statement.

The confirmation, according to the release, was made in a recent communication from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the Minister of Health.

The leading cause of infectious blindness starts off as a bacterial infection that’s a bit like conjunctivitis and can be easily treated.

In 1986, a survey found that trachoma was the third leading cause of blindness in the country.

According to the dispatch, The Gambia is the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the elimination after three decades of hard work.

“This is a milestone achievement which resulted from strong partnerships that supported the full and coordinated implementation of the WHO endorsed SAFE strategy which entails the provision of surgery for trichiasis patients, the distribution of antibiotics (Zithromax) via mass drug administration to treat trachoma infections and reduce the spread of the disease; teaching local communities the importance of face washing and encouraging good hygiene to prevent the spread of the infection and improving access to water and sanitation to reduce exposure, re-infection and eliminate conditions that favour the breeding of flies.

“The elimination of trachoma as a public health problem is a significant contribution towards the attainment of our National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals. We take this opportunity to renew our commitment towards the new WHO NTD Roadmap 2021 – 2030,” it said.

The country, with support from partners, is strengthening its efforts towards the elimination of other NTDs, including lymphatic filariasis in the coming years, it assured.

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