An article about Sightsavers’ work to eliminate trachoma in Uganda has been published in UK newspaper The Telegraph.
Journalists from the newspaper visited Uganda to see how the country is making strides to tackle this infectious neglected tropical disease, thanks to help from UK Aid.
In the district of Napak in northern Uganda, the number of people suffering from trachoma infection has decreased dramatically after Sightsavers and its partners implemented the World Health Organization-approved SAFE strategy. The SAFE acronym describes the four methods used to control trachoma: surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements.
Community health volunteers are now travelling door to door in the region to identify any remaining people with the advanced stage of trachoma, known as trichiasis.
Margaret, from the Napak district, had suffered from years of repeated trachoma infections. As a result, her eyelashes had turned inwards, causing painful scraping against her eyeball every time she blinked.
She told us: “The eyelashes prick my eyes. It causes pain and makes my eyes tear. It’s been a continuous pain for many years – it’s very uncomfortable.
“Sometimes I ask someone to remove the eyelashes for me, which gives me some relief. But when it hurts, the pain makes it hard to blink. I find it hard to look at people when I’m talking to them. I can’t look at them clearly and I can’t concentrate when they’re talking to me.”
Margaret was taken to a health centre where surgeons were on hand to carry out a relatively straightforward operation. It took just 15 minutes per eye for the surgeon to correct her eyelids, stopping the scratching that was damaging her eyes, and may have eventually caused irreversible blindness.
The following day, despite some swelling caused by the operation, Margaret told us the pain had stopped. “I’m pleased I had the operation,” she said.
Sightsavers’ partners in Uganda include The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which has been working in the country since 2014 to eliminate trachoma, with funding from UK Aid and other Commonwealth countries.