News / Health

Doctors Aim to Reduce Trachoma in Kenya

A woman washes her face. Facial cleanliness is one way to prevent Trachoma in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)
A woman washes her face. Facial cleanliness is one way to prevent Trachoma in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)
Health workers in Kenya say more than 60,000 people are living with trachoma, an infectious eye disease that causes blindness if not treated early.  But doctors are working to bring an outbreak of the disease under control in Kajiado, a remote rural village in southern Kenya.

A local trachoma monitor in Kajiado is teaching a group of women how to prevent the eye disease and how, and where, to get treatment.

Lester Mortai is well known in this area for his work fighting trachoma. He travels through villages, telling people the best ways to avoid getting the painful disease.

Trachoma monitor Lester Mortai teaches a group women how to prevent Trachoma at household level in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)Trachoma monitor Lester Mortai teaches a group women how to prevent Trachoma at household level in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)
x
Trachoma monitor Lester Mortai teaches a group women how to prevent Trachoma at household level in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)
Trachoma monitor Lester Mortai teaches a group women how to prevent Trachoma at household level in Kajiado, Kenya. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)
“At household level I encourage them face cleanness and even the environment.  [In] the case of trachoma, the main agent is the flies. We also encourage those who sleep [with] animals around them to separate themselves from animals,” said Mortai.

Trachoma is characterized by the swelling of the eyelids and scarring of the outer surface of the eye, the cornea.  Repeated infections make the eye lashes turn in and scratch the cornea, causing pain and, eventually, blindness.

According to the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), more than 7,000 people in Kajiado suffer from trachoma.  The disease primarily afflicts impoverished pastoral communities.

Ngeyan Nge is one of four trachoma sufferers with an advanced stage of the disease. To avoid blindness, Nge will undergo surgery to correct the positioning of her eye lashes. The mother of six says she decided to seek medical treatment after a long time living with pain.

She said she was now hopeful about the future, even though in the beginning she was opposed to the surgery. She changed her mind, adding, "after continuous advice from people, and also no matter what medicine I use the pain won’t go away.  After the surgery, I hope I will be able to see well and carry my daily activities.”

One of the "flying doctors" from AMREF, John Soine, travels to remote areas of Kenya every week to operate on those with serious cases of trachoma. He said the disease was easily treatable if caught early.

“If these people with active infections are not treated, they end up developing complications whereby the eyelashes start facing inwards and start rubbing on the eye ball.  And at this stage one may lose vision. And the loss of vision in trachoma is irreversible,” he said.

Thirty-nine-year-old Kadogo Salaash had almost lost her vision to the disease more than five years ago. At first she was doubtful that surgery could help her, but eventually she relented.

“When I decided to go for the eye surgery, I was worried and uncomfortable,” she said.  “I thought after the surgery I would not see again. [But now it’s the opposite; I am confident, happy and I can do my work well.”

Health workers said in the last five years active trachoma prevalence has dropped by 11 percent, largely due to vigorous education campaigns and improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

The next goal is to reduce active trachoma prevalence to under 10 percent, with hopes of eliminating the disease entirely by 2020.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs