West Pokot government launches trachoma treatment exercise

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West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo during the launch of the exercise
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and residents during the launch of the exercise

West Pokot County government has launched a trachoma treatment exercise targeting 600,000 people who are at risk of contracting trachoma within the entire County at a cost of Kshs 11.5 million. The County is partnering with Fred Hollows foundation alongside other local implementing agencies.

The programme is geared towards the elimination of trachoma-an infectious disease that causes the roughening of the inner eyelids and can lead to blindness. Medical experts will conduct door to door treatment distributing drugs so as to reach every person in the county within five days.

In West Pokot County trachoma is rife and 73%, translating to 735,000 people in the County, defecate in the bush leading to the spread of the disease given that exposure to human faeces is often behind the spread of bacterial infection which may lead to trachoma.

In the five-day treatment exercise, more than 1500 surgeries are set to be conducted for people who are at risk of losing their eyesight after being infected with trachoma.

Residents have been advised to adapt the SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibitiocs, Face washing and Enviromental change ) as preventive measure from contracting the disease.

Speaking during the launching of the trachoma treatment at Kacheliba sub county hospital West Pokot county CEC health Mr. Geoffrey Lipale said three sub counties have a high infection rate with more than 1500 people at risk. “For the past five years in collaboration with Fred Hollows foundation we have managed conduct 6000 surgeries.We shall treat more than 80% of locals ,” he said.

Lipale said that the bacterial disease is brought by poor sanitation and water scarcity and can also be spread by flies where one fly infects ten people in a day. He urged  residents  in the area to observe sanitation.

He added that they have entered an agreement with Uganda for residents who migrate there in search of pasture and water and also to get treatment.

Area Governor John Lonyangapuo noted that the County government is committed to set aside funds in order to tackle the disease. “Areas affected are the whole of Pokot North and Central sub counties, Chepararei, Batei, Endugh, Sook, Suam, and Alale wards,” he said.

Doctor Norbert Abuya advised residents to consider sanitization as their priority adding that trachoma may be spread through contact with an infected persons’ hands or clothing and is common in areas where hygiene and sanitation are quite poor.