Ten years after establishing a tailored programme, Iraq has successfully eliminated trachoma as a national public health problem, becoming the fifth country in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to reach this goal.
“The success of Iraq’s national trachoma programme has shown what can be achieved with national leadership and collaboration”, explains Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Freedom from trachoma will positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable populations now and in the future”.
Iraq’s national trachoma programme was established in 2012, developing a trachoma surveillance system meant to detect and manage cases in secondary and tertiary eye care facilities, as well as school pre-enrolment and school eye screening programs. As a result, the number of citizens requiring antibiotic treatment went from 39 million in 2013 to 6.9 million as of April 2023. Trachoma – a neglected tropical disease (NTD) caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis – is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Iraq is the 18th country to have been validated by WHO for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. Iraq is also the 50th country – the halfway mark to WHO’s 100-country target set for 2030 – to have eliminated at least one NTD.