The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the end Trachoma, a tropical eye disease in The Gambia.
Trachoma primarily affects children in some 45 countries around the world, including 29 in Africa. According to the WHO, around 137 million people live in places where the disease remains endemic. Women are four times more likely than men to be infected because of their close physical contact with affected children.
Based on the results of a 2018-2019 trachoma trichiasis survey in The Gambia, WHO said the prevalence of the disease among people aged 15 years and older ranged from 0 to 0.02%. This goes beyond the WHO threshold required for the disease to be declared eliminated as a public health problem in a country.
"This is a remarkable achievement that has saved many children, mothers and families from preventable visual impairment or blindness and improved their quality of life and well-being," said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
Dr Moeti added that The Gambia's success proved that it was possible "to reach important milestones through dedicated efforts to address the health challenges in the region ".
Gambian Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh said eliminating the disease was a monumental achievement, reminding Gambians of the 1980s when the disease accounted for one in five cases of blindness.