One step closer: Ghana celebrates the elimination of blinding trachoma

7 August 2018

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The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee congratulates the Ghana Health Service and all of the organisations involved in elimination efforts in the country.

An event today (Tuesday, 7 August) celebrates Ghana becoming the first sub-Saharan African country and first Commonwealth country to eliminate blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is a painful, blinding, yet preventable condition. It is caused by an infection spread by flies and human touch, found in areas that lack of access to clean water and sanitation. It starts as a bacterial infection and if left untreated, repeated infection causes scarring which turns eyelashes inwards and painfully scratch the surface of the eye which can cause irreversible blindness. In 2000, 2.8 million people were at risk of trachoma in Ghana, but in June this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it had eliminated the infectious disease as a public health problem.

At today’s ceremony the official certificate of elimination is being presented to The Honourable Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu by Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa the WHO Representative, Ghana Country Office. Around 200 government leaders, health workers, volunteers and international aid workers are gathering in Ghana’s capital, Accra, to join the celebrations.

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is working in twelve Commonwealth countries to towards the elimination of this blinding eye condition and create a lasting legacy for Her Majesty The Queen. Ghana’s achievement sets an example of the global progress being made to end trachoma. Malawi, one of the countries where the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is working,  is now entering its two-year surveillance period after freeing 8 million people from the risk of blinding trachoma. The country will collect evidence to show that it has reached elimination targets, to present in its official dossier for the WHO.

Today’s event in Ghana signifies that the world is now one step closer to being free of trachoma. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is committed to working with its network of dedicated partners across the world to continue progress that is being made to end this disease for good.

Photo: The eye care team in Ghana’s Yendi district, who helped to treat the final cases of trachoma. © Sightsavers/Ruch McDowall