Adou, a Beninese farmer who can care for his animals again. Photo Credit: SidesaverHealth Benin
Trachoma No Longer a Public Health Problem, in Two More Countries
Two new African countries, Benin and Mali, have effectively eradicated trachoma as a public health problem, giving hope to other countries in their quest to eliminate such neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
“These are impressive public health achievements,” says Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director of the WHO Global NTD Programme. “Benin and Mali demonstrate how strong political will, cross-sector integration, surveillance and community engagement can work in concert to achieve disease elimination.”
To achieve such a feat, both countries have implemented the WHO-recommended SAFE strategy to reduce transmission consisting of surgery to treat late trachoma complications, antibiotics to clear the infection, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement – notably access to water and sanitation. Plus, Pfizer donated the antibiotic azithromycin through the International Trachoma Initiative. Trachoma becomes the third NTD eradicated in Benin. In 2009, it eliminated dracunculiasis, and in 2021, gambiense human African trypanosomiasis. As for Mali, it joins a global group of 47 countries that have eliminated at least one NTD. A total of 17 countries – six in Africa and 11 around the world – have been validated by WHO for having eradicated trachoma as a public health problem.