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WHO figures show progress made towards complete elimination of trachoma

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that significant progress has been made towards the global elimination of trachoma. Over the last 17 years, WHO reports that the number of people at risk of the diseases has fallen as much as 91%.

The development was announced at the 22nd meeting of the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020) alongside data showing a decrease in the number of people requiring surgery for rachomatous trichiasis. According to the latest data, 7.6 million people required surgery for the condition in 2002, as opposed to 2.5 million in 2019.

“Eliminating trachoma contributes to the ocular health and quality of life of the poorest, most disadvantaged people worldwide and thereby moves us a step closer to achieving universal health coverage,” Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, director of WHO's Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said.

“Ridding the world of this painful, debilitating disease is being made possible through generous donations of the antibiotic azithromycin, sustained contributions from a network of dedicated funding agencies and partners, and the efforts of hundreds of thousands of front-line workers who work tirelessly to engage communities and deliver interventions.”

The WHO promotes the use of the SAFE strategy to eliminate glaucoma: Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotics to clear infection, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement to reduce transmission.

The Fred Hollows Foundation also welcomed the announcement. Foundation CEO Mr Ian Wishart said the figures show that Hollows’ dream of eliminating trachoma is on track to be fully realised.

“The Foundation is proud to have played a leading role in efforts to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem across the world. We conducted the largest trachoma elimination project in the world in Ethiopia in 2017, supporting one in five surgeries and one in five doses of antibiotics globally.”

“More work is needed to eliminate this ancient disease for good, but this is a great testament to what we can achieve with strong partnerships and resolute political support.”

Since 2011, WHO has certified eight countries as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, including at least one country in every region the organisation has designated ‘trachoma-endemic’.

AFT Pharmaceuticals

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