The Republic of Kiribati has a population of about 100,000, and consists of 33 coral atolls, 21 of them inhabited, dispersed over about 3.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. The capital Tarawa is about half way between Hawaii and Australia. Access to healthcare and infrastructure can be a challenge. The Global Trachoma Mapping Project indicated an infection rate of 21% and a trichiasis prevalence of 1.5%.
What we’re doing about it
Kiribati’s existing health system is able to address the number of trichiasis surgeries required. Instead our focus is on prevention, through a Trachoma Action Plan and supported by a National Trachoma Taskforce. The SAFE strategy will be regionally coordinated with other countries in the Pacific (Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), with the principal aims of distributing antibiotics and persuading the many water and sanitation NGOs to include face washing in their campaigns.
Progress so far
Kiribati has a draft Trachoma Action Plan, awaiting endorsement. There is a National Eye Committee that is well supported by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. The Ministry places a high priority on eye health and recognises the sector as one that cuts across primary healthcare. Due to the size of Kiribati and the shortage of eye health human resources, the National Eye Committee will form the basis of the National Trachoma Taskforce with the inclusion of water and sanitation stakeholders. Planning is underway for its first round of antibiotic distribution in May 2016.