Iraq Achieves WHO Recognition for Eliminating Trachoma and Neglected Tropical Disease

Iraq Achieves WHO Recognition for Eliminating Trachoma and Neglected Tropical Disease
Iraq Achieves WHO Recognition for Eliminating Trachoma and Neglected Tropical Disease

In a remarkable feat for global health, Iraq has received dual commendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its resolute efforts in combating infectious diseases. The nation’s unwavering dedication has propelled it to the coveted status of the 18th country to effectively eliminate trachoma as a public health menace. Furthermore, Iraq has etched its name as the 50th nation worldwide to successfully thwart at least one Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), signifying a momentous leap toward the objectives outlined in the 2021-2030 NTD roadmap.

Iraq’s emergence as a beacon of progress is a testament to its unrelenting pursuit of health excellence. The eradication of trachoma, a contagious bacterial eye infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, is a triumph made possible through meticulous planning and dedicated implementation. The country’s 2012 initiation of a national trachoma program laid the foundation for a comprehensive surveillance system, enabling the detection and management of cases across eye care facilities and educational institutions in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

Integral to this success story is the contribution of thousands of healthcare professionals who played pivotal roles in these efforts. The coordinated endeavors of refractionists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and eye surgeons exemplify the power of a collective commitment to eradicating disease and safeguarding public health.

As the spotlight shines on Iraq’s achievements, the journey does not conclude with the elimination of trachoma. Iraq, in partnership with the WHO, remains vigilant in its post-elimination phase, meticulously monitoring previously endemic areas to swiftly detect and address any potential resurgence of the disease.

Trachoma’s mode of transmission, primarily through direct contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects, underscores the importance of the comprehensive SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement) in preventing its spread and impact. The infection’s progressive effects on the eye, leading to blindness if untreated, highlight the urgency of such eradication efforts.

While Iraq stands as a remarkable success story, it remains cognizant of its larger regional context. Trachoma still prevails in six countries within WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, necessitating sustained collective action. The significant reduction in individuals requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma elimination—from 39 million in 2013 to 6.9 million as of April 2023—underscore the progress being made.

Joining a distinguished league of nations, Iraq shares the ranks of those who have triumphed over trachoma as a public health concern, including Benin, Cambodia, China, Gambia, Ghana, Iran, and many others. These collective achievements amplify the impact of global health initiatives and serve as inspirations for continued commitment to a healthier world.

As the World Health Organization continues its tireless efforts under the guidance of WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the triumphs in Iraq exemplify the potential that emerges from dedicated collaboration and the pursuit of a healthier, more equitable future. With WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, these triumphs resonate across borders, transcending geographical boundaries and fostering hope for a world free from preventable diseases.