The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Togo for becoming the first country to successfully eradicate four neglected tropical diseases.
In a period of just 11 years, the country eliminated four tropical diseases, namely Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, sleeping sickness and trachoma. For this major accomplishment, the WHO awarded the West African country an outstanding achievement award this week.
WHO’s regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said that Togo has achieved a ‘major feat’, adding, “This achievement is an example for the rest of Africa and shows what is possible when health is made a priority.”
The first disease to be eradicated was Guinea worm in 2011, following which it became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in 2017, after which sleeping sickness was wiped out in 2020. In 2022, Togo successfully eliminated trachoma.
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé said that health was a priority the country has placed at the heart of its development policies. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 20 preventable, treatable conditions that are often not prioritised in health budgets and global funding opportunities.
Since 2012, 46 countries have successfully managed to eliminate at least one NTD, and pharmaceutical companies have donated around 14 billion treatments. In May 2022, world leaders met in Rwanda to reconfirm their commitment to the elimination of the NTDs and agreed on a deadline of 2030 for the undertaking.