A health worker provides a dose of medicine to a person in Benin that will help prevent a neglected tropical disease.

Credit: USAID’s Act to End NTDs West – Les Angles d’Afrique.jpg

Today the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recognizes a substantial public health achievement in Benin. The World Health Organization has announced the country successfully eliminated trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, as a public health problem. 

After years of treatment with safe, effective medicines donated by Pfizer, Inc, surveys show that trachoma no longer presents a significant public health concern to people in Benin. This substantial public health achievement was led by the Republic of Benin with the support of local and global partners and donors. USAID has worked alongside country leadership to eliminate trachoma since 2013. 

Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection spread through contact with infected persons, often through direct personal contact, shared towels or cloths, as well as eye-seeking flies. Repeated infection can develop into a condition known as trichiasis. If left untreated, this painful condition can result in vision loss or permanent blindness. Stigmatization and loss of opportunity from the disease can place a tremendous economic burden on individuals, families, and communities.

USAID is a global leader in elimination and control of five of the most common NTDs. Globally, USAID has supported the delivery of 3 billion donated treatments to 1.5 billion people at risk of NTDs across more than 30 countries. As of today, 12 USAID-supported countries have eliminated at least one NTD.