Senior Chief Lukwa: Spreading the word on safer hygiene
Telling people that they can avoid a potentially blinding eye infection with proper hygiene may sound like an easy win. But in communities with limited access to fresh water, and where toilets are virtually unheard of, it’s easier said than done.
In Malawi, Senior Chief Lukwa is aiming to spread awareness of trachoma prevention among the 117 group village leaders over whom he has authority. Between them, the leaders supervise over 300 villages, or more than 13,500 households.
“Low literacy levels and poor access to safe water conspire to hinder my subjects from good sanitation and hygiene practices,” says the chief, explaining that his constituency has no more than 50 boreholes to serve a population of around 80,000.
This lack of basic sanitation encourages the flies which can transmit trachoma, as well as making it more likely to be spread through touch, clothing and bedding. Prevention is further complicated by the prevailing local belief that trachoma can only be cured by squeezing wild plant sap into the eyes.
Lukwa recognises that part of his role is to ensure that development initiatives in health and education gain traction within the community.
“After sensitisation from Sightsavers, our area wants to adopt a new approach that will empower the communities to take health, especially eye health, into our own hands.”