Britain through Her Royal Highness Sophie the Countess of Wessex has commended Malawi for eliminating the risk of trachoma, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that causes blindness, saying the southern African nation has set an important example for other Commonwealth nations to follow.
Ministry of Health announced that Malawi had beaten by a year the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2020 deadline on the elimination of the risk of trachoma.
In a statement provided to Nyasa Times by the British High Commissio, Countess of Wessex who is Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. said: “I am delighted to hear the news that it is now official: Malawi has removed the risk of trachoma across the country. For millennia, trachoma has blighted the lives of millions.
“They become unable to leave their homes, go to work and provide for their families. But now trachoma is preventable and treatable.”
The countess attributes the success to “the unwavering leadership of Malawi’s Ministry of Health”, the committed efforts of organisations working together within the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) and the communities.
“Since I visited Malawi in 2017, all 53 Commonwealth countries have committed to take action towards achieving accessible eye health for all, and to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem by 2020. Malawi shows that it can be done. I commend Malawi for reaching this milestone and I am filled with hope that other Commonwealth nations where the disease is endemic are equally committed to ending this ancient scourge,”she added.
The statement by the Countess of Wessex, issued on Commonwealth Day, comes weeks after Malawi was ranked second among 49 African countries that are meeting the WHO targets.
The analysis by Uniting to Combat NTDs, released last month, looked at the five most common NTDs in Africa: trachoma, intestinal worms that cause stunting of children; elephantiasis, bilharzia and river blindness.
Ministry of Health is held by Atupele Muluzi.