Malawi district no longer at risk from trachoma

5 July 2017

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The Kasungu district in central Malawi has reached the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination thresholds for trachoma.

This means less than 0.2 per cent of those aged 15 and over in the district have the advanced stages of the disease and less than five per cent of children aged one to nine years have the active infection. The figures were confirmed by a recent survey carried out by partners of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Teams gathered data from all sampled households during Malawi’s rainy season, despite often having to travel long distances by foot and cross overflowing rivers.

Kasungu district has now progressed from distributing medication to stop the spread of the infection, and moved on to the surveillance stage where any incident cases of infection or advanced stages of the disease known as trachomatous trichiasis (TT) are managed at static health centres. This transition marks the success of the Trust’s trachoma control programme as trachoma is no longer considered a public health problem in the district.

In the future, there may still be some new or recurrent cases of TT, although they are expected to be very few and will now be managed by Malawi’s strengthened healthcare system.

The Trust is awaiting further survey results and expects to confirm similar results in other districts across Malawi.

Photo credit: Zul Mukhida / Sightsavers