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Hope as trachoma cases in Tanzania dwindle

Hope as trachoma cases in Tanzania dwindle

THE number of people with trachoma has declined significantly in the country from 160,000 in 2010 to below 17,000 by October last year following a number of initiatives jointly carried out by the government and development partners.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, while speaking here during an event to celebrate collaboration on trachoma elimination on Tuesday evening, said so far, 63 districts have met the criteria of stopping Zithromax Mass Drug Administration (MDA.

“By the end of 2018, only 8 councils needed Zithromax MDA. We are optimistic that the districts will soon attain the target of trachoma free,” said the minister during the event.

The event which was attended by the British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Sarah Cooke, brought together partners in trachoma elimination initiative in the country to celebrate collaboration in the programme.

Ms Mwalimu explained that Zitromax MDA is a special programme which was introduced to ensure proper dose of Zithromax is provided to each eligible person within targeted geographical area, and that it is a blueprint that ensures the correct drugs and other materials are available in the right place.

She expressed gratitude to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative and the UK Aid-funded DFID Safe Programme for great support towards elimination of trachoma in the country.

Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Trust, Dr Astrid Bonfield, noted that more communities have become trachoma free, allowing millions of people across the Commonwealth the freedom to work and support their families.

“As we head into our final year, we can be very proud of all that has been achieved by the Trachoma Initiative. Our greatest wish is that the huge strides made by the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative will very soon lead to a day when no one is at risk from this painful, blinding disease,” she said.

Dr Bonfield said as the work of the Trachoma Initiative draws to a close, the continued efforts of national governments and their partners will be paramount to ensuring the countries are finally declared trachoma free in the very near future by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sightsavers Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Harper observed that distributing treatment, training surgeons and mobilising case finders on such a large scale has only been made possible through effective partnership, making millions of people’s lives better as a result.

“The significant impact the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative has made on eliminating trachoma is cause for celebration, and a testament to the close collaboration between all those involved,” she said.

Helen Keller International Country Director, Ms Erin Smith, whose organisation is among the partners in elimination of trachoma in the country, said the organisation has more than 120 programmes aimed at improving the sight in 20 African countries, including Tanzania.

“Part of the work is focused on preventing blindness and vision loss for millions of vulnerable people through cataract surgery and vision correction,” she said.

British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Sarah Cooke, informed that the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Trust’s Trachoma Initiative has been working towards elimination of trachoma across 12 Commonwealth countries, including Tanzania.

“We have such a strong partnership with the government, Sightsavers and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Trust towards eliminating trachoma in the country,” she said.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporters in Dodoma

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