15 February 2022 On 26 January 2022, the World Health Organization validated Saudi Arabia as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, making it the fourth country in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region to achieve this milestone. Trachoma is a neglected tropical eye disease. Children acquire the infection at a young age. Inflammation can then lead to progressive scarring of the eye lid, with long-term consequences years or even decades later that can lead to blindness.
Saudi Arabia’s success in eliminating trachoma is largely attributed to the efforts of the Ministry of Health following the integration of a comprehensive eye care programme into primary health care services, and in collaboration with the efforts extended by other public sectors, including the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
“This is a remarkable achievement that has saved people from preventable visual impairment or blindness. It is about improving quality of life and well-being,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean. “Such success stories are encouraging and help us to eliminate more diseases in our Region.”
Saudi Arabia and WHO will continue to closely monitor previously endemic areas to ensure that there is a rapid, proportionate response to any resurgence. Saudi Arabia, with the support of WHO, is also tackling other neglected tropical diseases, including schistosomiasis, worm