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Gambia’s Success in Eliminating Trachoma

The World Health Organization (WHO) has validated Gambia for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, making it the second country in the WHO’s African Region to achieve this milestone. At the heart of the efforts against trachoma are Gambian community volunteers, who have played a crucial role in mobilizing communities and promoting behaviour change. A 2018–2019 survey on trachomatous trichiasis (the advanced, blinding stage of trachoma) in Gambia found that the prevalence of this condition among people aged 15 years and above ranged from 0% to 0.02% – well under the threshold required for elimination of trachoma as a public health problem3. This is a huge achievement compared to the mid-1980s, when a national survey estimated that trachoma was responsible for almost 1 out of 5 cases of blindness, countrywide. Trachoma is a neglected tropical eye disease. Infection mainly affects children, becoming less common with increasing age. The long-term consequences of infection develop years or even decades later. In adults, women are up to 4 times more likely than men to be affected by the blinding complications of trachoma, mainly due to their close contact with infected children.