Malawi makes strides in trachoma fight


By Macdonald Thom:

NAMARIKA (right)— We are celebrating that we
are almost at a stage of elimination

The government is hopeful that trachoma would be a thing of the past in the next five years.

The World Health Organisation indicates that trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and that, with repeated episodes of infection, eyelashes may be drawn in so that they rub on the surface of the eye, with pain and discomfort and permanent damage to the cornea.


Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Dan Namarika, said this on Thursday, when stakeholders celebrated strides made in the fight against the disease.

Led by the Malawi Government and delivered by members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has since 2014 been implementing an initiative aimed at fighting the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.

“We are celebrating that we are almost at a stage of elimination. That is a no mean achievement. Trachoma, as you may be aware, does not kill but causes permanent disability; disability in the sense of losing sight. If half of our population is at risk of losing sight, then you could see how the development agenda could be affected,” Namarika said.


Namarika said, before implementation of the initiative, almost eight million people were at risk of getting trachoma in Malawi.

Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Chief Executive Officer, Astrid Bonfield, said they are happy with progress made in the fight against trachoma.

“As the work of the Trachoma Initiative comes to a close, the continued efforts of national governments and their partners will be paramount in ensuring that countries that have borne the brunt of this terrible disease for too long are finally declared trachoma-free,” she said.

Sight savers Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Harper, has, meanwhile, hailed the role of stakeholders in ridding countries of the menace that is trachoma.

“Distributing treatment kits, training surgeons and mobilising case finders on a large scale has only been made possible through effective partnership and millions of people’s lives are better as a result,” she said.

The initiative has delivered vital antibiotics to more than 12.9 million people to stop the spread of the disease, provided people with more than 4,800 pain-relieving and sight-saving surgeries and held 16 sessions to train and certify trachoma surgeons.

Implementers have also trained 12,500 case finders to locate people in need of treatment and direct them to services

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