World leaders and global partners have recommitted to actions to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem, during the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, hosted by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, from 20-25th June 2022.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting communiqué, endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of State, takes note of the progress made in increasing access to quality eye care, including eliminating trachoma as a public health problem and promotes a multi-pronged approach for access to screenings and affordable vision treatments, especially for children. The commitment to increased access to quality eye care follows a commitment to the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem made in 2018 at the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in London, United Kingdom.
“We praise Commonwealth governments for their global leadership in working towards the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem”, said Peter Holland, Chair of the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition and Chief Executive of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). “Commonwealth countries have made significant strides to improve access to eye health interventions since commitments made at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This is demonstrated by the elimination of trachoma in Ghana, The Gambia and Togo. It is now the job of the whole Commonwealth and wider world to ensure we see an end to the pain and suffering caused by trachoma.”
Commonwealth countries have made significant strides to improve access to eye health interventions since commitments made at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This is demonstrated by the elimination of trachoma in Ghana, The Gambia and Togo
Alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, on 23rd June, the Kigali Summit for Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) was held – the first ever joint malaria and NTDs summit with Heads of State and hosted on the African continent. The summit resulted in commitments totalling more than US $4 billion, from governments, international organizations, philanthropists, and the private sector.
During the Summit, Caroline Roan, Senior Vice President, Global Health & Social Impact, Pfizer Inc, announced continued support to the global trachoma program through the provision of donated Zithromax through the International Trachoma Initiative through till 2030, the year trachoma is targeted for global elimination.
"In 1998, Pfizer and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation created the International Trachoma Initiative to provide and scale access to antibiotics for trachoma as part of the WHO SAFE strategy. Since, then Pfizer has donated more than 1 billion doses, enabling the treatment of more than 270 million people,” Roan said. “In this time 13 countries have been validated for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem. We know elimination, globally, is in sight, and I am so proud to announce Pfizer’s extended commitment to the International Trachoma Initiative through the year 2030.”
Ahead of the Summit, the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, on behalf of its members, committed to providing platforms of collaboration to support the delivery of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy, in line with its strategic plan 2022-2030. ICTC committed to support and lead advocacy and communication initiatives that promote the integration of trachoma into health systems, including national eye health packages of care, and the paradigm shifts that underpin the 2030 NTD road map; and to provide technical assistance to implementing NGOs through the development of preferred practice documents.
Speaking about commitments made at the Summit, ICTC Chair, Dr Angelia Sanders said, “Now, more than ever, the trachoma and broader NTD community is aligned around a shared vision of country ownership, cross-sectoral, and impact orientated programming. Commitments made at the Kigali Summit will power the partners and accelerate progress to rid the world of these debilitating, yet preventable diseases, that trap communities in cycles of poverty and poor health”.
The Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs was attended by world leaders including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Dr Philip Isdor Mpango, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State, UAE and the Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Honourable Minister of Health, Federal Republic of Nigeria.