Britain has commended Malawi for eliminating the risk of trachoma, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that causes blindness.
Last month, the Ministry of Health announced that Malawi had beaten by a year the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2020 deadline on the elimination of the risk of trachoma.
Her Royal Highness Sophie the Countess of Wessex, in a statement provided by the British High Commission on Monday, says: “I am delighted to hear the news that it is now official: Malawi has removed the risk of trachoma across the country. For millennia, trachoma has blighted the lives of millions.
“They become unable to leave their homes, go to work and provide for their families. But now trachoma is preventable and treatable.”
The countess attributes the success to “the unwavering leadership of Malawi’s Ministry of Health”, the committed efforts of organisations working together within the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) and the communities.
The development means the country has reached the elimination threshold for trachoma, according to information from ICTC website, and that Malawians are no longer at risk of going blind from the disease.
To reach full elimination, the ICTC states, Malawi needs to sustain the elimination prevalence thresholds for two years, known as the surveillance period.
In 2014, government adopted a five-year national strategic plan to meet the WHO 2020 targets on the elimination of NTDs.
The statement by the Countess of Wessex, issued on Commonwealth Day, comes weeks after Malawi was ranked second among 49 African countries that are meeting the WHO targets.
The analysis by Uniting to Combat NTDs, released last month, looked at the five most common NTDs in Africa: trachoma, intestinal worms that cause stunting of children; elephantiasis, bilharzia and river blindness.
Earlier, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said the ministry is doing well on NTDs elimination.
“The main strategy is mass drug administration in line with WHO guidelines. We have eliminated elephantiasis. For river blindness, we are just waiting for an independent confirmation of its elimination. There are also good results for trachoma.
“There is now less than one percent of trachoma active cases against the WHO set target of five percent. This disease is no longer a health threat,” he said.