Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nomads for trachoma treatment

HAZLA OMAR in Arusha
TRACHOMA, the serious eye infection which can even lead to blindness, remains a major problem among nomadic cattle grazers who cannot be pinned down to receive treatments.

Authorities have thus hatched new initiative to tackle the tricky situation. A total of 5,563 trachoma victims have undergone eye surgery in Tanzania within last year, while as of this year, there are 80,000 others currently suffering from trachoma ailments across the country.
The National Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program in conjunction with the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) has thus hatched a new cross-border method of administering medication to the Maasai to ensure that the seemingly borderless pastoralists, who usually move with cattle between Kenya and Tanzania, are given trachoma treatment at the same time.
That was stated during the Second Annual Meeting of the East Africa Neglected Tropical Diseases and Trachoma Cross-Border Partnership held in Arusha.
“We are going to fix a single day in which mass trachoma medication will be administered to pastoralists on the Kenyan and Tanzanian sides of the borders because the nomadic grazers move a lot,” Dr Upendo John the National Coordinator for Neglected Tropical Diseases said.
Dr John was of the view that if the synchronised exercise would be conducted on a single day the Maasai from Tanzania who will be in Kenya at that time will be treated while their counterparts back home are also going to receive medication.
She added that, after being given the free medication, or operations should the situation call for it, each of the pastoralist will be handed special cards to identify those who have been treated and those who are yet to be served will be targeted for another programme.
A total of 56 District councils have been placed under trachoma control programme which has yielded good results, to an extent that 22 districts have already been taken out of the red-zone for trachoma.
The other 15 districts mapped within Arusha, Manyara, Dodoma and Kilimanjaro are still suffering chronic Trachoma cases, with Longido, Monduli and Ngorongoro Districts in Northern Tanzania, topping the bill.
Seven countries that participated in the Arusha Meeting are reported to carry 67 percent of trachoma cases and these are, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and South-Sudan with experts pointing out that the disease is more serious and wide spread in South-Sudan.
Dr Paul Thomas the Director for International Trachoma Initiative has warned that Trachoma can infect anybody not just the Maasai and other nomadic pastoralists; “People should ensure cleanliness, especially washing the face and eyes!” he said.
Trachoma, the eye ailments affecting mostly members of the nomadic pastoral communities is common among residents of the Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya borderline essentially a Maasai precinct. Some people, including children, suffer from a non-fatal but highly repugnant eye ailment called trachoma trichiasis.
This is a chronic disorder that mainly affects the inside of the upper eyelid (tarsal conjuctiva) due to repeated infections by a causative agent called Chlamydia trachomatis. However, trachoma is a highly treatable disease that, in most cases, affects the unclean.

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