Journalist from The Telegraph, A United Kingdom newspaper, journeyed recently to Uganda in order to see first hand the country’s progress in fighting trachoma. The country is receiving help combatting the infectious disease that damages the eye from the Sightsavers program as well as the charitable organization UK Aid.
In the Northern Ugandan district of Napak, the numbers of individuals suffering from trachoma has fallen significantly following the implementation of the SAFE strategy that was approved for usage by the World Health Organization.
The acronym SAFE is representative of the four steps of treatment used to provide relief from the effects of trachoma. The first is surgery, then anti-biotics are given. Step three in the progress is facial cleanliness. The final stop to the SAFE program is environmental improvements.
Sightsavers report that the SAFE program has transformed the lives of many citizens of Uganda who had previously been seriously affected by trachoma. Health volunteers working with Sightsavers are also searching local communities to locate any individuals who may be suffering from an advanced stage of trachoma known as trichiasis.
One sufferer of trachoma, Margaret, who hailed from the district of Napak, had suffered the effects of the disease for many years. The young woman’s eyelashes had turned inward and resulted in immense pain everytime she addicted to blink due to the scraping of the eyelashes against the eyeball. Margaret is candid in conversations concerning her condition and expressed that her quality of life suffered for many years Margaret went on to say that she would sometimes ask the people around her to give help to her by removing the eyelashes but the constant pain and complications left her feeling unworthy and made it hard to communicate with others.
Margaret would become a beneficiary of the surgical procedure afforded to patients at a local medical center. The surgery is a simple one that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete for each eye. Her surgery was successful at stopping the scratching of the eye that had caused her so much discomfort and could have eventually led to Margaret becoming blind.
The relief for Margaret came quickly and even a day later, though some discomfort for the surgery was present, she was able to function without pain being present in her eyes for the first time in years. Sightsavers has joined forces with the Diamond Jubilee Trust in Uganda, an organization that has worked in Uganda fighting the trachoma epidemic since 2014.