Sep 14, 2011, 1:10 PM
Speaking at the sites, Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education Unit, said trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness among underprivileged populations in many developing countries like The Gambia.
According to him, it is estimated that about 146 million people have active trachoma and nearly six million people are blind, due to complications associated with repeat infections.
He explained that, it is an infectious eye disease that can eventually cause blindness, if left untreated. He said infection of the eyes with the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis usually occurs in childhood, but noted that infected people generally do not develop severe sight problems until adulthood.
“ Poor facial hygiene can lead to the disease spreading from person to person, through eye seeking flies or contamination fingers, it is therefore essential that you are able to identify the early signs of the disease and treat patients appropriately in order to avoid severe complications developing later in life,” he stated.
He disclosed that in April 2013, WHO, in collaboration with Sight Savers and Water Aid led international alliance for global elimination of trachoma by 2020, thus recognising the need to join hands with water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH) sector in the fight against trachoma.
For his part, Ansumana Sillah, the Program Manager for national eye care unit, explained that, in 1986 the prevalence rate of the disease was 70% in The Gambia.
He urged Gambians to take the monthly cleansing exercise with seriousness as it’s one of the key factors that could eliminate blindness in the communities.
Modoulamin Manneh, Regional Director Health Services in LRR, said the event made another milestone in the history of the region, noting that trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness.
Musa Camara, the Senior Administrative Officer, stressed the importance of a healthy lifestyle and then called for attitudinal change towards health, as he puts it, treatment is costly.
While stressing the need for environmental cleanliness as one of the factors towards preventing trachoma, he said, the reason why they held the programme in Sintet is because the village had recorded highest number of trachoma cases in western health region.
He finally urged them to disseminate the information to their respective communities.