By Buba Gagigo
The Gambia Ministry of Health has announced that the country is now ranked as the third African Country that eliminated the Trachoma disease blamed for the blindness of almost 2 million people worldwide.
Reacting to the accomplishment, the Minister of Health Ahmed Lamin Samateh described the elimination of the disease as significant towards the attainment of the National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].
“The elimination of Trachoma as a public health problem is a significant contribution towards the attainment of our National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goal,” he said at a press conference.
Minister Samateh also expressed that The Gambia National Eye Health Programme is recognized globally as a role model because of the design and strategies used to establish eye care services which reduce blindness prevalence.
World Health Organisation representative to The Gambia Dr. Desta A. Tiruneh was said the achievement Gambia’s did not happen overnight, but though over two decades of persistent implementation of the Organisation’s SAFE Strategy for Trachoma Elimination.
“The resolution to eliminate Trachoma as a public health problem was adopted by the 51st World Health Assembly in 1998. Since then, the World Health Organization has been providing strategic guidance and support to countries, including The Gambia to implement this Strategy” Dr Desta said.
Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection causes a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelids. This roughening can lead to pain in the eyes, breakdown of the outer surface or cornea of the eyes, and eventual blindness. It is a leading infectious disease that causes blindness worldwide and affects 44 countries. The disease is responsible for the blindness or impairment of about 1.9 million people, according to research.
According to the ministry of health the disease which is the leading cause of infectious eye disease has been reduced to 3.6 percent from 17 percent. A 2018-2019 survey on Trachoma trachealis (an advanced stage) in The Gambia found that the prevalence of the disease among people aged 15 and above range from 0 percent to 0.02 percent, beating the threshold required for the elimination of Trachoma as a public health problem