Empowering Francophone Countries for Successful Trachoma Dossier Development

26 Feb 2024

Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire – Trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness globally, continues to pose a significant public health problem, particularly in the African Region, which bears 86% of the global burden. Progress is being made in the African region with six countries already validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. Most of the 22 endemic countries in the Region are also making progress towards elimination, which requires them to start preparation of a dossier for validation. In response to this, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Trachoma at the University of Cape Town, in collaboration with WHO, organized a trachoma dossier development training workshop for Francophone African trachoma endemic countries in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from February 20 to 22, 2024.

The workshop gathered 38 participants, including 16 national NTD/trachoma program managers from 10 Francophone African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. The primary objectives were to equip participants with a comprehensive understanding of WHO trachoma dossier guidelines and processes, provide the necessary knowledge and tools for documenting elimination efforts, and foster peer-to-peer learning and country ownership of the dossier preparation process.

The workshop commenced with a global and regional update on trachoma elimination status, followed by an in-depth exploration of the dossier validation process and the updated WHO trachoma dossier guideline template by Dr Amir Kello, Medical Officer Trachoma, of ESPEN. Representatives from Benin and Mali, countries recently validated for trachoma elimination, shared their experiences, providing valuable insights. Each participant country had the opportunity to present progress, challenges, and experiences in dossier preparation. While some countries are in advanced stages, others are yet to start the process. Facilitators discussed each section of the WHO dossier guideline template, addressing participant queries. Individual and group work sessions allowed for practical application of knowledge, leading to the identification of next steps, development of timelines, and determination of ongoing assistance needs.

To enhance the quality of submissions, endemic countries are encouraged to seek technical support, submitting draft dossiers for informal review before the official WHO/AFRO submission. As we strive towards the 2030 goal of eliminating trachoma as a public health problem, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and targeted support for dossier preparation will be key in ensuring success across the African Region.