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5,000 Face BlindnessIn Northern, Upper West Regions

2008-07-02 20:06:47
This article has been read 692 times.

Five thousand people in the northern and Upper West regions risk going blind if they don’t undergo surgical treatment within 18 months. They are suffering from an eye disease, known as trichiasis, says Abraham Odoom, a deputy Minister of Health.

Trichiasis is the complicated form of Trachoma, an eye disease transmitted by flies. It causes the eyelashes to get into contact with the eye balls, leading to irritation of the eye balls.

Repeated infections lead to the scarring and thickening of the upper eyelids.

Speaking at a press briefing on "Elimination of Blinding Trachoma in Ghana" last Friday, Mr Odoom said trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Ghana, particularly in the northern and Upper West regions.
He said the National Trachoma control Programme has

developed a five-year strategic plan (2005-2009) to guide trachoma control activities which also provided benchmarks to monitor and evaluate the programme’s performance.

"The Trachoma Control Programme is in place to eliminate blinding trachoma from the country by 2010, ten years ahead of the global elimination target."

He said the control of trachoma is being implemented through the World Health Organisation’s recommended community-based trichiasis surgery by trained staff and the treatment of active cases with antibiotics, promoting facial cleanliness and environment improvement. This is also known as the "SAFE Strategy."

He stated that more than 4,540 trachoma were treated last year and the prevalence of active trachoma is less than 3 per cent, lower than the WHO target for elimination which states that the prevalence should be 5 per cent in children between the ages of one and nine.

Mr Odoom said the antibiotic distribution component of SAFE strateges, has a consistent coverage of over 80 per cent of patients with the facial cleanliness in most districts improving remarkably, while environmental sanitation indicated varying levels of implementation.

"Behavioural change in relation to personal hygiene and environmental sanitation is critical in the prevention of trachoma," he added.

Ibrahim Jabr, President of the International Trachoma Initiative, stated that Ghana is the first country in sub-saharan Africa to achieve a remarkable stage of trachoma

source: GhanaianTimes

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