The country’s Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has joined the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (the Trust) to consider how to provide surgery to those in need, as well as methods to test hygiene and sanitation practices, which are key to stopping the spread of trachoma infection.
Trachoma is largest infectious cause of blindness in the world, and it’s estimated that 12.5 million people in Tanzania are at risk of the disease. If left untreated, trachoma causes the eyelashes to turn inwards and scratch the outer eye, causing extreme pain, and can eventually lead to irreversible blindness. Those with advanced stages of the disease need surgery to correct their in-turned eyelashes and prevent further damage to the eye.
The Tanzanian government has been making strong efforts to tackle blinding trachoma since 1999. In 2014, it began working with partners to combat the disease by adopting the World Health Organization-recommended SAFE strategy, which includes surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental hygiene.
These colourful poles are used by community volunteers in the battle to eliminate neglected tropical diseases. But what are they, and how do they work?
African heads of state have agreed to add neglected tropical diseases to their annual scorecard on disease progress, a move described as a “game changer”.