Trachoma, which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is among the 20 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), and is the primary infectious cause of blindness worldwide, is no longer prevalent in West Pokot County.
During a stakeholder meeting on eye care, organized by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation held at a hotel in West Pokot County, Samuel Koringura, the county eye coordinator, declared that the trachoma disease is no longer active and ceases to be a public health concern in the region.
He explained that the Fred Hollows Foundation is an international development organization dedicated to ensuring universal access to affordable and excellent eye health care, regardless of one’s financial status.
Koringura said the program was initiated in 2012 by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Fred Hollows Foundation and launched to eliminate avoidable blindness.
“The successful efforts to combat trachoma disease follows many years of hard work led by the Ministry of Health with support from the Fred Hollows Foundation through their unwavering commitment which now is no longer active,” he stated.
He explained that 80 percent of blindness is due to causes that are preventable and avoidable.
He mentioned that the leading causes of blindness in Kenya include cataracts, trachoma, injuries, refractive errors, and diabetic retinopathy.
“The most affected areas were Pokot North and Pokot Central Sub Counties and in the county wards of Alale, Sook, Endugh, Chepareria, Batei, and Suam. Trachoma is common in areas where there is poor hygiene and sanitation,” said the ophthalmologist.
Koringura said through the sustainable efforts of the partners, trachoma has been successfully eliminated in the county through a combination of joint surgery, joint Mass drug administrations, and behavior change communication methods.
He highlighted that surgeries on 7000 with trachoma and over 10,000 patients with cataracts have been done and those that were at risk of losing their sight regained their vision.
He said an additional approach they utilized to eradicate the disease involved implementing six rounds of Mass drug administration targeting trachoma.
He said after administering the six rounds of mass drug administration in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017 they went on and did a survey about the prevalence of the disease which confirmed that indeed trachoma disease cases had reduced.
Kapenguria division Assistant County Commissioner Ms Ruth Wachera thanked the Fred Hollows organization for its sustained efforts in the fight against causes of blindness in the country.
“I thank Fred Hollows for partnering with the government on trachoma elimination ranging from Mass Drugs Administration, joint surgeries, and behavior change communication,” said Ms. Wachera.
She called on other partners to come on board in supporting the county on matters of health to help the country achieve Universal Health Care.
By Richard Muhambe