What is the News?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently validated the Gambia for its elimination of trachoma as a public health problem.
- Overall, this makes Gambia second country after Ghana to achieve this milestone in the WHO’s African Region. (Please note that, Africa & WHO’s African region are not the same)
- Ghana did it in 2018.
- This also makes Gambia second country after Côte d’Ivoire to eliminate a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) in 2021.
- Côte d’Ivoire successfully eliminated human African trypanosomiasis, also known as “sleeping sickness”, as a public health problem, becoming the second African country after Togo to be validated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Firstly, Trachoma is a neglected tropical eye disease. It is caused by the infection due to the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
- Secondly, Transmission: Trachoma spreads through personal contact (via hands, clothes or bedding). It also transmits by flies that contact the discharge from an infected person’s eyes or nose.
- Thirdly, Vulnerable Group: Trachoma mainly affects children. It is becoming less common with increasing age.
- Fourthly, Impact: Repeated infections in childhood lead to scarring of the inner side of the upper eyelids. This will result in the inward turning of the eyelid margin. This painful condition is known as trachomatous trichiasis. If left untreated, this condition can result in visual impairment and blindness.
Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET2020).
- The WHO in 1996 launched the Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET2020).
- Purpose: It supports countries to implement the SAFE strategy in Trachoma elimination. Further, it also strengthens national capacity through epidemiological assessment, monitoring, surveillance, project evaluation and resource mobilization.
- WHO adopted the SAFE strategy in 1993. Its mandate is to provide leadership and coordination to international efforts in eliminating trachoma as a public health problem. The SAFE strategy also reports on the progress towards that eliminating Trachoma.