29th February 2020
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Ghana

Ghana has become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to be validated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem. This is according to a report by the Carter Center. Ghana succeeded in reducing trachoma as a public health problem by 2010, but it was ahead of its time: in 2010, WHO and global trachoma experts had not yet developed a process or criteria to evaluate the country’s achievement.

WHO created a process in 2016 to allow for Ghana and other countries to be validated as having met the targets for elimination as a public health problem. Ghana received support from the Carter Center and the Conrad N Hilton Foundation in training health workers in communities including teachers and volunteers. They also received support in preparing and submitting the dossier to the WHO.

Trachoma is an infectious disease which causes a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelids. This roughening can lead to pain in the eyes, breakdown of the outer surface or cornea of the eyes, and eventual blindness. Untreated, repeated trachoma infections can result in a form of permanent blindness when the eyelids turn inward. Globally, about 80 million people have an active infection. In some areas, infections may be present in as many as 60–90% of children. It commonly occurs in 53 countries of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, with about 230 million people at risk. It belongs to a group of diseases known as neglected tropical diseases.

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