Grey Mist Lifting

A Weekly Blog About Lives Changed Through Eye Care

Lorie Gibson, former Vice-President of International Programs

Mobilization! The war against trachoma (Part 1 of 2)


Dr. Steve Mukiri outlines the logistics of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in remote areas of Kenya.

Dr. Steve Mukiri outlines the logistics of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in remote areas of Kenya.

This week, we present the first of a two-part story about the ongoing battle against blinding trachoma, a terrible infectious disease that is one of the leading causes of avoidable blindness globally. The World Health Organization, together with partners like Operation Eyesight and local Ministries of Health, has invested huge resources into eliminating trachoma by the year 2020. Dr. Steve Mukiri, an ophthalmologist at the Narok District Hospital in Kenya, recently sent us this report about the local war against trachoma.

In Kenya, Narok is one of the districts where trachoma is endemic. The Narok program is a comprehensive one that encompasses all four elements of the SAFE strategy for trachoma control: Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotic distribution, Face washing, provision of water and personal hygiene and lastly Environmental improvement, which includes latrines, safe waste disposal and health education.

Narok district recently conducted its fifth round of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) exercise for the elimination of trachoma. It involves giving Zithromax®, an antibiotic which has been shown to be highly effective against the bacteria that causes trachoma, to all residents of the district. The antibiotic is donated free of charge by its manufacturer Pfizer through the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI).

Estimating a child’s antibiotic requirement.

Estimating a child’s antibiotic requirement.

The MDA exercises are gruelling and fraught with challenges, ranging from treacherous terrain, poor road conditions, vast sparsely-inhabited areas, extreme weather conditions, and human-wildlife conflict. The exercise requires our teams to move long distances to reach families and individuals in their manyattas (households), schools and markets, in order to maximize every opportunity to give residents the antibiotic.

Come back next week to learn how the teams prepare for “battle,” and why our donors’ support is so vital in the war against trachoma!

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