WHO pronounces Ghana trachoma free

Mr Agyeman (middle), interacting with some of the dignitaries after the programme. Photo; Vincent Dzatse

Mr Agyeman (middle), interacting with some of the dignitaries after the programme. Photo; Vincent Dzatse

Ghana yesterday received a validation letter and certification from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for successfully eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.

This makes Ghana the first African country to eliminate the burden of trachoma as a public health concern among 26 African countries before the set global elimination targets of 2020.

Trachoma which has been a neglected tropical disease (NTD) in Ghana for decades is a disease of the eye caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachoma and a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

The Health Minister, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu who received the certificate said trachoma though referred to as an ancient disease still blinds a person every fifteen minutes globally.

According to him, the elimination of trachoma from the previously endemic communities in Ghana meant that the nation was poised to mitigate the miserable effects of blindness on society by giving the public a right to sight.

He stated that the Ministry of Health would continue to work tirelessly through inter-sectoral programmes and development partners to ensure that Ghana’s current status of trachoma stays so in many years to come.

“This effort will also be extended to the management and elimination of other neglected tropical diseases like lymphatic filariasis, onchoseciasis, cataract and glaucoma,” he said

Mr. Agyeman-Manu stressed the need for continual awareness creation, sensitisation and education on sanitation and good hygiene with the help of community, religious and traditional leaders.

“Let me caution that we cannot afford to go to sleep as one would naturally do after every success, we need to make conscious efforts to sustain the gains made especially for environmental improvement which is very key to keeping the disease at bay,” he said.

 

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, who was giving an account of how the success was attained, said in the year 2000, Ghana together with development partners in the health sector set 2010 as a year to eliminate trachoma but the targets were not attained.

The WHO representative to Ghana, Dr. Owen Kaluwa lauded Ghana for the progress made in eliminating trachoma as a public health concern.

“Ghana is indeed a trail blazer and the global trachoma community has a lot to learn from the country’s experiences,” he said.

He stated that the WHO would continue to support other member states in their quest to eliminate trachoma.

 

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