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In 2011, 325 million people required treatment for trachoma. Today, that number has dropped dramatically to 182 million, a roughly 50 percent decrease.
A tangible example of this incredible progress is found in Morocco, a country that in late 2016 successfully eliminated trachoma as a public health problem after more than six decades of sustained disease management. The validation of Morocco, as well as Oman and Mexico, by the World Health Organization as having reached elimination targets shows that a world without trachoma is within reach.
Pfizer has long been a leader in the global effort to eliminate trachoma through our involvement with the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and more than 100 organizations, and we are proud to continue these partnerships as we look toward the global elimination of trachoma.
To mark this meaningful moment in time, ITI is co-hosting an event with the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. This celebration will highlight Morocco’s extraordinary accomplishment, as well as the global progress in trachoma elimination in the context of the London Declaration, a bold goal to eliminate or control 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) like trachoma by 2020.
But how does the global health community approach a visionary goal like that set out in the London Declaration? It is certainly a challenging task to figure out how to bring better health to the more than one billion people affected by the diverse group of communicable diseases that is NTDs. Yet, through careful surveillance, dedication and support from important bodies, such as local government, pharmaceutical companies, donors, philanthropic organizations and civil society, a blueprint for ridding the world of these debilitating diseases emerges. In the right climate and through sustained efforts, many NTDs can be controlled, eliminated or even eradicated.
The validation of trachoma elimination in Morocco is truly a testament to what can be accomplished and can serve as a blueprint for other countries still fighting to eliminate this debilitating disease.