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On Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Iraq had eliminated trachoma as a public health problem.

Image by tetracarbon from Pixabay (cropped)

Iraq established its national trachoma programme in 2012 to coordinate the final domestic push against the disease. A trachoma surveillance system was developed to detect and manage cases within secondary and tertiary eye care facilities, as well as through school pre-enrolment and school eye screening programmes conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Thousands of refractionists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, specialist eye surgeons and other trained healthcare staff contributed to these efforts.

“The success of Iraq’s national trachoma programme has shown what can be achieved with national leadership and collaboration”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Freedom from trachoma will positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable populations now and in the future”.

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Globally, Iraq joins 17 other countries that have been validated by WHO for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. These are Benin, Cambodia, China, Gambia, Ghana, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Togo and Vanuatu.