BBC NEWS AT BBC.CO.UK/NEWS
The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed The Gambia’s elimination of trachoma as a public health threat, saying it will save families, including children, from blindness.
Health workers have been urged to closely monitor the trend to “sustain the gains.”
Trachoma is caused by the chlamydia bacteria and is spread from person to person by contaminated fingers, flies and towels. If untreated, the eyelids become chronically inflamed, and this can eventually lead to blindness.
Trachoma remains endemic in 29 African countries, according to the WHO. The Gambia eliminated trachoma after almost four decades of work, the government said in its announcement.
“Gambia’s success in trachoma elimination starts from the community,” said Sarjo Kanyi, manager of The Gambia’s National Eye Health Programme and coordinator of the trachoma initiative.
A network of eye units was set up across the country with the help of nongovernmental organizations, and thousands of volunteers went door to door to find people with the disease.