Dracunculiasis, elephantiasis, trypanosomiasis and trachoma are no longer public health problems in Togo. Better treatment planning and the involvement of all stakeholders are the keys to success.
The presentation of the certificate and the trophy to Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé by the Director General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus took place at the opening of the 72e session of the WHO Africa regional committee held from August 22 to 26, 2022 in Lomé.
This award celebrates the country's efforts in eliminating these four neglected tropical diseases which no longer represent public health problems.
“Progress has been made possible thanks to the dedication and commitment of all stakeholders in the health who have worked at all levels to preserve the precious good that is health,” said Faure Gnassingbé.
The Togolese Head of State adding that "health remains a priority in the policies development, whose great ambition by 2025 is to guarantee health coverage and access to essential services for all. »
According to Togolese epidemiologist, Marin Kokou Wotobe, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care, Togo was declared free of dracunculiasis in 2011 thanks to a fierce fight launched since 1991.
Lymphatic filariasis was eliminated in 2017, after several years of surveillance following the cessation of mass treatment in 2010.
As for human African trypanosomiasis against which the response has started since the 2020th century, it was eliminated in June 2022. And the last disease to be eradicated in May XNUMX is Trachoma.
"Various interventions have made it possible to provide effective responses and to overcome all these diseases as a public health problem", underlines Marin Kokou Wotobe.
For the Togolese Minister of Health, Moustafa Mijiyawa, the eradication of these diseases results from more than two decades of sustained political commitment, surveillance and detection of cases.
"Togo has taken the fight against neglected tropical diseases to heart by developing the basic cartography which has determined the endemic areas of these diseases and has started the fight there through mass treatments for NTDs with preventive chemotherapy", says -he.
The latter also boasts the support of community leaders, actors in the système health, partners and the population itself.
In the field, the strategy focused on interrupting transmission and preventing further transmission, then treating and monitoring diseases and their associated morbidity and complications in order to alleviate suffering.
According to the WHO, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of twenty conditions that primarily occur in the tropics, where they affect 1,7 billion people worldwide. Many of these diseases weaken, disfigure and incapacitate by preventing children and to go to school and the adults to work.
Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Executive Director of Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases estimates that 46 African countries have eliminated at least one NTD for every 600 million people cured.
Therefore, "the elimination of dracunculiasis, lymphatic filariasis, African trypanosomiasis and trachoma is a considerable success, and a gift not only for Togolese men and women today but also for generations to come", Tedros Ghebreyesus analysis.
Thoko Elphick-Pooley, believes that Togo's achievement represents important proof for Africa and for the global health community that ending NTDs is possible.
“At the heart of this success is an engaged country and political ownership, and I hope leaders across Africa will be inspired by the incredible steps that Togo has taken to transform the lives of its citizens,” emphasizes the latter questioned by SciDev.Net.
Despite the eradication of these diseases as public health problems, the Togolese health authorities maintain vigilance against the NTDs eliminated until 2030.
A sustainability plan was thus launched to maintain the gains of elimination and control. It is executed by the national NTD control program coordinated by venerologist Gnossike Piham.
As for the other NTDs, the Ministry of Health usually organizes (when a case appears) mass treatments against tropical diseases such as intestinal worms, onchocerciasis, and bilharziasis, pockets of which remain to be circumscribed in the country.
This article was published on the French version of SciDev.net and is reproduced with their permission.