Trachoma is thought to be endemic in both Libya and Somalia. Yet to find out how widespread the disease is, and begin the important work to control the spread of infection, endemic areas must first be mapped to gather data. Once the surveying is complete, the results can be used by national trachoma programmes to plan any work to eliminate the disease, usually using the SAFE approach (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement). But the first step is to train the people in country how to conduct surveys.
Because of security issues in Libya and Somalia, the Ministry of Health in Sudan worked with national trachoma coordinator Dr Bilghis and her colleague Dr Tawfik (from Yemen) to organise and host a Tropical Data training session (with support from the World Health Organization).
The workshop was based on Tropical Data’s training curriculum, which teaches graders (ophthalmologists and eye health workers) and recorders (people with eye health or data management backgrounds) the skills needed to carry out the trachoma surveys. This includes examining people in their homes and gathering information on sanitation and hygiene, in relation to their living conditions.
During the training, graders spent the first two days learning how to spot and grade the different stages of trachoma. This included practice in the field, as well as a test in which trainees examined the same 50 children as the trainer, then compared results. While the graders examined people for trachoma, the recorders spent their first two days learning about different data collection forms and elements of sanitation and hygiene, and practised entering data onto smartphones. The second half of the training focused on team training and the practicalities of carrying out house-to-house surveys.
This project uses smartphones to gather data as part of the fight to eliminate trachoma. It is supported by Sightsavers, RTI International, the International Trachoma Initiative, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.More on Tropical Data