Trachoma is endemic in 12 of Kenya’s 47 counties, concentrated in the highly disadvantaged regions of northern Kenya and the country’s borders with South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. These areas have no public transport system and poor quality roads, and as a result are frequently inaccessible during the rainy season.
In 2002, Sightsavers and the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) implemented the country’s first trachoma control programme, which had been scaled up to cover all confirmed endemic districts by 2013.
What we’re doing about it
By March 2019, the Trachoma Initiative aims to fully eliminate* trachoma in Kenya. The programme will provide surgery to over 41,500 people, and distribute antibiotics to at least 2,870,000 people. In all 12 counties where the disease is endemic there will be behaviour change interventions, to encourage communities to wash their faces, and build latrines, to reduce the spread of trachoma. The Initiative is re-training 36 surgeons, and training an additional 31 new surgeons, who can correct the in-turned eyelashes of people with trichiasis. Health workers in local communities will receive tools and training to raise awareness about the surgical services available and assist those in need of treatment.
* less than one case per one thousand people in the total population.
Progress so far
Kenya is making excellent progress towards the goal of eliminating trachoma.
Almost 2.7 million people in endemic communities have been treated with antibiotics. The Initiative has trained, retrained, and certified 39 surgeons, and more than 15,000 people have received surgery so that their eyelashes no longer scratch on their eyes.
1994 case finders have been trained and mobilised to locate people in need of treatment, which has helped reduce surgeons’ time spent screening patients at outreach camps. The teams now use local guides and motorbikes to access areas which could not be accessed using cars or trucks.