“Mbuya ndinokumbirawo mapiritsi. Ndakanzwa nemuzukuru wangu paakabva kuchikoro marimwe zuro kuti muri kukurudzira munhu wese kunwa mapiritsi anodzivirira hupofu” said an old grandma. Surely you could tell from the determined look on her face that despite her age she did not want to get blind after all why get blind when it could be averted.
Her grandchild had come with the information from school where health workers were on a campaign to give them medicine. Her take home information was the educative session that they received before queuing to get the four pink tablets and a cup of water. All this had been part of a ten-day Blinding Trachoma Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign that has been running in various districts namely Shamva, Bindura, Rushinga, Binga, Marondera, Nyanga, Mutasa and Gweru from 11 to 20 July 2022.
Everyone in the above mentioned districts was being encouraged to get a single dose of the medicine once or twice a year over three to seven years to treat, control and eventually eliminate the pain and burden of trachoma in Zimbabwean Communities.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care with support from Sight Savers, World Vision, Basilzwi Trust and WelthungerHilfer had been campaigning for the treatment of trachoma disease which if left untreated causes blindness. The treatment in form of ointment, oral suspension and tablets is being administered to everyone including pregnant mothers and newly born babies. Signs and symptoms could be exhibited through mild irritation of the eyes and eyelids, eye discharge, redness, swelling painful eyes even loss of vision.
Tracoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with a bacterium which spreads through personal contact like hands, clothes and flies. Communities are encouraged to practice facial cleanliness as well as continuously improve their environments to control flies. In cases of advanced forms of trachoma where antibiotics will not help surgery may be performed. Repeated infection without treatment may result in irreversible blindness.
Through research, trachoma was found to be endemic in various districts, hence the need to roll out a mass drug treatment campaign. Everyone is at risk of this disease so populations in areas with high burden of trachoma where these treatments are being administered are encouraged to participate.