Faith: Determined to eliminate trachoma
“I will not rest until the TT [trachoma trichiasis] backlog is cleared in this county,”
Faith is the Public Health Officer in charge of Kitui Central sub-county in Kenya. Like many people in the region, when she was younger she witnessed older women, including her own grandmother, removing their in-turned eyelashes with homemade tweezers because of the pain they caused them every time they blinked. Faith considered this to be a perfectly normal practice.
Faith attended The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative workshop in 2014, where she learnt how trachoma trichiasis was the cause of her grandmother’s desperate actions, and the reason the older woman had become blind. “I can only imagine the pain my grandmother went through,” she says.
At the workshop, Faith learnt about the efforts to eliminate trachoma in Kenya using the Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental change strategy (SAFE). She trained to be a “Trainer of Trainers” and now plays a leading role in training case finders to mobilise communities to identify patients, counsel those who are uncertain about surgery and refer them for treatment.
Faith is one of 3,081 case finders in Kenya who, with the support of the Trust, have been trained to locate people who may have trachoma trichiasis and refer them for treatment. This has reduced the time surgeons have spent screening patients and enabled them to treat more than 26,000 people in Kenya so far.
Faith also champions SAFE activities and implements the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene strategy (WASH), and the Community-led Total Sanitation initiatives, both in Kitui County. “I have to see all children in the communities with clean faces and villages declared “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) before the end of 2018,” she explained.
Faith travels by motorcycle as it is the only way to reach the communities living in the most remote parts of Kenya. Faith is determined to do all she can to eliminate trachoma in her home region and she won’t let long distances, rough terrain or prohibitive cultural traditions stand in her way.
“I will not rest until the TT [trachoma trichiasis] backlog is cleared in this county,” she says. “With my profession as a Public Health Officer I know I stand a better chance of achieving this and I have made trachoma my priority, thanks to the Trust’s initiative.”