Trachoma is a tropical disease that is underappreciated. Bacteria cause it, and it primarily affects children. Women are four times more likely to be affected by the disease than men. This is primarily due to women’s close contact with their infected children. Infections can cause scarring on the inner side of an eyelid, causing the eyelashes to rub the eyeball. This causes extreme pain and light sensitivity. If not treated, it can result in blindness or visual impairment.
“Togo’s achievement represents an important step forward in the fight against trachoma.” “As a result of ongoing control efforts, children and families in the country can live free of the serious consequences of this treatable disease,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Trachoma eradication efforts in Togo began in 1989 when it was designated as a priority ignored tropical disease under the national control programme. Screening and treating people with advanced trachoma complications was the primary elimination strategy. Togo’s success is founded on community participation, with health care workers trained to recognize suspected cases and refer them for examination.
Togo also started a series of public awareness campaigns highlighting the role of facial hygiene and personal cleanliness in the battle against trachoma, in addition to significant investments in safe drinking water and improved sanitation.
Evidence was used to validate trachoma eradication as a public health issue in Togo. Between 2006 and 2017, several trachoma surveys was carried out. According to the 2017 survey, which used WHO-recommended research methods, the incidence of leading factors was lower than the WHO trachoma eradication threshold. Additionally, there was evidence that Togo’s health-care system could detect and treat cases of trachoma late complications.
Togo has been validated as one of 12 countries worldwide for trachoma elimination as a matter of public health by the WHO. Cambodia, China, Iran’s Islamic Republic, Gambia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Myanmar are among them.
The prevalence of the disease
Trachoma is still a public health concern in 43 nations, with approximately 136 million people affected. Trachoma is most common in Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America, and the Middle East’s poorest and least-served rural communities. Trachoma affects Africa disproportionately, with 116 million individuals living in high-risk areas, accounting for 85 per cent of total world trachoma burden.
Substantial progress has been achieved in recent years, with people in the African Region needing antibiotics for trachoma infection falling by 73 million, to 116 million in June 2021from 189 million in 2014 .
Trachoma is still endemic in 26 African countries, despite Togo’s success.