Trachoma in Somalia


Trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide, and is responsible for 1.3 million cases of blindness.
Trachoma remains a significant public health concern in many developing countries, especially in regions that suffer from overcrowding a dry, hot, dusty climate, water shortages, poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. Infection spreads from person to person, usually among children, through contact from hands, clothes, or flies that carry discharge from the eyes. Due to their close contact with children, women suffer three times more infections than men.

Trachoma in Somalia

According Trachoma Atlas; Approximately 5.2 million people in Somalia live in areas where trachoma is a known risk. About 10 thousand have the advanced stage of disease that leads to visual impairment and permanent blindness.

A Case study from Somali refugee camp.

A high prevalence of active trachoma has been discovered in a number of refugee camps in Somalia due to “spreading factors” such as overcrowding, poor personal hygiene, inadequate water supply, a high fly index and hot dry climate. A therapeutic strategy in such communities consists of intensive control intervention accompanied by public information and activities to promote eye health. Such a trachoma control program is described for the Daray Ma’an camp of North West Somalia in 1981, with population estimates of 39,000-80,000 at various times. It has been estimated that at least 10,000 people at the camp had active trachoma, mostly in the age group 0-14 years. Health service structure relies on community health workers and trained birth attendants, so training was directed at this group. Topics covered included the nature of trachoma, community and preventive aspects, and instillation of eye ointment. The campaign lasted from December 1981 – June 1982 and consisted of chemotherapy (tetracycline), health
10 education, disposal of rubbish, and case finding and treatment.

Written by Dr.Mohamed Ahmed Omar, SNTDCI Trachoma Control Program Director

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