Before the work of the Initiative began, trachoma was endemic in 12 of Kenya’s 47 counties, mostly concentrated in the disadvantaged regions of northern Kenya and its borders with South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and the South-western border with Tanzania. Many of these areas are very remote and inhabited by nomadic communities which can make it difficult to reach people and deliver healthcare services.
What we’re doing about it
We’re working with a network of organisations to deliver the whole SAFE strategy. Together we are making significant progress towards eliminating trachoma in Kenya; we hope to have found and offered management to all cases of trichiasis by the end of 2019 and reduced the level of infectious trachoma beyond threshold by 2021.
To do this, we are training surgeons who can correct the in-turned eyelashes of people with trichiasis – the most advanced and painful stage of the disease. Health workers in local communities have received tools and training to raise awareness about the treatment available and assist those in need.
In addition, the programme is informing and empowering communities to protect themselves from infectious trachoma by washing their faces and hands.
Progress so far
Kenya is making excellent progress towards eliminating trachoma.
So far, our programme has delivered 4.2 million vital antibiotics to more than 2.4 million people. The Initiative has trained and certified 35 surgeons, and more than 15,000 people have received surgery to relieve their pain and help save their sight.
The Initiative has also trained and mobilised more than 6,800 case finders to find suspected trichiasis patients, and bring them to the outreach camps, which has helped reduce surgeons’ time spent screening at outreach camps. And the teams use local guides and motorbikes to get to areas which could not be accessed using cars or trucks.
The Trust has also supported a project called Super School of Five, which involves children following a 21-day programme featuring adventures of five superheroes who encourage them to wash their hands to prevent the spread of trachoma. The programme has reached 116 schools and over 50,000 students.