This article is from the International Coalition for Trachoma Control
It is the first country in the Pacific Islands, the fourth country in the WHO Western Pacific Region and 14th country globally to achieve this milestone.
Vanuatu’s success in eliminating trachoma follows concerted efforts by the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, with support from international donors, including Australia’s foreign aid program through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to map disease prevalence and deliver interventions across the country.
“Public health teams were mobilised throughout the country’s 83 islands, mapping prevalence and administering antibiotics through the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) program”, said Dr Anasaini Cama, Pacific Islands Trachoma Expert, The Fred Hollows Foundation. “Vanuatu’s journey to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem demonstrates that by working in partnership at the global and local levels, we can deliver results that have a lasting impact on people’s quality of life and well-being”.
Speaking about research partnerships that catalysed progress in Vanuatu, Dr Angelia Sanders, Chair of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control said, “Significant research efforts have supported progress to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem in Vanuatu and across the WHO Western Pacific Region. Vanuatu’s success in eliminating trachoma as a public health problem should provide optimism across the region that the global NTD road map target to eliminate trachoma can be achieved by 2030, through effective partnerships and collaboration across sectors”.
Great strides have been made to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem, including a 92% reduction in the number of people at risk since 2002, according to the latest WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record.
Trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, is targeted by the global NTD road map for elimination by 2030. In the WHO Western Pacific Region, 3.5 million people remain at risk of trachoma across eight countries, and 125 million people remain at risk across 43 countries globally.
The elimination of trachoma as a public health problem in Vanuatu was led by the Government of Vanuatu and the Ministry of Health with support from WHO, Australian NGO Cooperation Program, The Fred Hollows Foundation, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, International Trachoma Initiative, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Pfizer, RTI International, Sightsavers, Tropical Data, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, and the UK Government’s Commonwealth Fund.