World Health Day highlights the importance of access to healthcare

6 April 2017

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The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is joining organisations around the globe to mark World Health Day and highlight international health issues.

The awareness day, held each year on April 7, also marks the anniversary of the foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO), with international, regional and local events taking place across the world.

Many people in developing countries still struggle to access vital healthcare, and much of the Trust’s work focuses on ending avoidable blindness and bringing eye health services closer to those who need them. As part of trachoma elimination programmes, the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative trains surgeons to operate on those with trichiasis (advanced trachoma). By the end of 2016, more than 170 surgeons had been trained and certified, and 60,000 people had received sight-saving operations.

The programme also distributes antibiotics and provides vehicles to enable medical teams to travel to more remote locations, as well as transporting elderly patients so they can receive treatment. The outreach teams often use local guides and motorbikes to reach areas that can’t be accessed using cars and trucks.

Some of those suffering from trachoma are not aware that treatment is available. The Trachoma Initiative trains local volunteers to travel from house to house to find people with the disease and ensure they are treated by the surgeons visiting their area. By the end of 2016, the initiative had trained 14,000 case finders to locate people in need of treatment.

The aim of the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is to eliminate blinding trachoma in Fiji, Malawi, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Uganda, Vanuatu and Kenya by 2019, to make significant advances in Australia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania, and to help map trachoma in Zambia to establish the prevalence of the disease.

Picture above:  Avana Pangane Muyalomo works as a volunteer in Ngangolo village in northern Mozambique, where he identifies people suffering from trachoma and advises them on treatment options