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Efforts to curb trachoma disease takes off

Kenya and Tanzania governments have embarked on a joint cross border mass drug administration exercise in an effort to fight trachoma.

The collaborative approach launched at Olposimoru area in Narok West Sub County seeks to eliminate the blinding disease that affects close to 3.6 million people in both countries.

Ministry of Health Head of Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, (NTD), Wycliffe Omondi, who represented the Chief Administrative Secretary, (CAS), Dr. Patrick Omoth, said that drug administration remains the most effective way to deal with trachoma.

“The fastest way of reducing the prevalence is through taking this medication and that is why the government is going out of its way to provide this preventive medication to the community members,” he said.

He added that other ways of lowering the prevalence of trachoma is through cleaning the face with clean water and keeping the environment clean.

Omondi called upon the community members to participate and take the medication that is being provided to them as the government is striving to reach them door to door.

Tanzania NTD programme manager George Kambona, said that the coordinated efforts between the two governments would ensure a greater reach to the pastoral Maa community as compared to the previous efforts by the two countries to deal with the problem independently.

The Tanzanian official said besides working together with Kenya, his country will be administering the drugs at least twice a year to eliminate the disease.

“Before, we were administering the medication once a year but as from now, we will administer twice per year to eliminate the disease completely,” said Kambona.

Narok Public Health Director Edward Tankoi, said the disease prevalence in the county was at 30 per cent in the year 2008 but following intense intervention, the disease has reduced to a prevalence of 10 per cent.

Alice Mwangi, the country director operation eyesight, said that without the partnership of the two countries, it would be impossible to eradicate trachoma by the year marked 2025 in Narok County.

The mass administration will be conducted for five days targeting four counties of Narok and Kajiado in Kenya and Longido and Ngorongoro in Tanzania.

Trachoma is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 20 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and is the leading infectious cause of blindness around the globe.

In Kenya, trachoma is endemic in five regions of Narok, West Pokot, Turkana, Baringo and Kajiado counties.

Other key partners present were Operation eyesight universal, Sight savers and Red Cross Society.

By Ann Salaton and Candy Gudda

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