The World Health Organization has validated Togo for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.
Professor Moustafa Mijiyawa, Minister of Health, Togo was formally notified of validation by WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
Although surveys conducted in 2006, 2009, and 2011 had shown that trachoma prevalence in children 1–9 years was below 5% in every district, and therefore the country did not require mass drug administration for trachoma, the prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis (TT), the late blinding stage of trachoma, was above the WHO threshold of under 0.2% in those aged 15 years and above in seven districts.
To eliminate trachoma as a public health problem, the Ministry of Health, through its National Eye Care Programme and National Programme for Neglected Tropical Diseases, identified and managed TT patients through the country’s network of ophthalmic nurses. Additionally, all TT cases identified during outreach activities for eye care and those who presented in the routine eye care services were managed. The reduction of TT cases to below the WHO elimination threshold was confirmed through surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health with support from Tropical Data in 2017.
The Ministry of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care also undertook awareness raising campaigns about the importance of facial cleanliness and personal hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission, which was further supported by significant improvements in availability of safe water and access to improved sanitation.
“ICTC congratulates Togo for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem”, said Dr Angelia Sanders, Chair, International Coalition for Trachoma Control. “Identifying and treating trachomatous trichiasis cases in low prevalence settings is often challenging but essential to achieve elimination as a public health problem. Togo’s commitment to elimination has prevented pain and further vision impairment among those affected.”
Togo is the 13th country to be validated by WHO for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem and the third country in the WHO African Region.