Today, delegations from the U.K. and U.S. governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Pfizer are gathering in the Wolisso region of Ethiopia to celebrate the donation of the 500 millionth Zithromax dose and a significant expansion of the national trachoma elimination program in the country.
MACHAKOS, Kenya - Blue breasted songbirds buzz around ornamental hibiscus and zebras cavort with wildebeests at the Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos, Kenya - an idyllic setting for the first East Africa cross-border meeting on eliminating trachoma and other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Close on the heels of President Obama's historic visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, this meeting brought together East African countries with trachoma elimination goals to address elimination targets as one cohesive regional unit. As Dr. Paul Emerson, director of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), said at the opening session, "not one of the programs will succeed unless all of us succeed."
East Africa’s trachoma burden is huge, with over 107 million people living in trachoma endemic areas. This consultative meeting provided a forum for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and an opportunity for the countries to assess their progress as a region.
Leadership can be tricky; it takes knowledge, experience and learning from mistakes, and it’s not always intuitive. Sometimes it means not talking and letting others express an opinion.
“Before, I was doing all the work by myself,” said Dr. Khaled Amer, Egypt’s Prevention of Blindness Coordinator. “But now I’ll ask other workers to be engaged and also provide feedback. When there is an issue, I’ll encourage them to have an opinion and not just obey my orders.”
Amer is one of several senior health officials who participated in a recent leadership training workshop conducted by the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO). Based in Cape Town, South Africa, KCCO offers leadership and management training to national coordinators to address issues related totrachoma and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as well as other blindness prevention programs. Coordinators from Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were trained this year in Cape Town, in a workshop funded by the International Trachoma Initiative. Last year, KCCO trained coordinators in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania. A leadership training was recently conducted in Ethiopia as well.
ITI's Bill Nigut traveled to Ethiopia in 2013 and witnessed a number of trichiasis surgeries. He documented the one in this slideshow at the Gambo General Rural Hospital many kilometers south of Ethiopian capital city Addis Ababa in the Oromia region.
ITI is sharing this Community Eye Health Journal article in the spirit of community and partnership. This story is not part of the CEHJ trachoma series, but it highlights important work being done in global eye health.
Story by Islay Mactaggart, Research Fellow in Disability and Global Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK, for Community Eye Health Journal.
Thanks to its speed and efficiency, the Global Trachoma Mapping Project is adding new countries and districts to its survey list, and the work will continue through 2015. Project epidemiologists are also in the process of working with national programme staff to help countries publish their trachoma data.
As of March 1, 2015, trachoma graders have examined the eyes of 2.1 million people for clinical signs of trachoma in a total of 1,469 districts in 22 countries. Ninety-five percent of the districts were completed using GTMP methods. GTMP is funded by the UK Department for Intern
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (the Trust) Trachoma Initiative has begun work in Tanzania, bringing the number of Commonwealth countries where it is working to eliminate trachoma in Africa to six, (joining Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda). It will also tackle the disease in Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and in Australia.
The Trust will implement the SAFE strategy in each country on a large scale. SAFE stands for surgery, antibiotic distribution, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. In Tanzania, trichiasis surgery will be provided to all those with advanced stages of the disease in the Lindi, Dodoma, and Arusha regions - covering approximately 26,000 people.
ITI is working closely with the World Health Organization to merge the Zithromax® Application with the Trachoma Evaluation and Monitoring Form (TEMF) to make it easier for national programs to report trachoma data.
The form will be used by all 58 countries in the global trachoma program. The goal is to reduce duplication, streamline formats, and coordinate data flow. Countries use the TEMF to report on implementation of the SAFE strategy, which combines surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environment improvement to eliminate trachoma. Merging the TEMF with the Zithromax® Application means programs can review and edit district names in one place, and the edits will automatically update through the entire form.