Charu Sudan Kasturi in Ozy:
Among Africa’s poorest countries, Togo is surrounded by better-off neighbors that for decades have struggled to defeat lymphatic filariasis, a tropical disease commonly known as elephantiasis (the bacterial infection causes the skin of the swollen areas to resemble that of an elephant’s heavily wrinkled hide). Rising global powers India, Brazil and Indonesia also continue to wage war on an affliction that disables or disfigures 1 in 3 victims. Malaria is the only vector-borne disease that infects more people in the world.
Togo’s achievement, formally endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the culmination of almost two decades of smart interventions, say experts. The West African nation was among the first to take the WHO up on its challenge in the late 1990s to eliminate the disease, says Rachel Bronzan, a medical epidemiologist at global health care agency Health and Development International.