Public Health: Trachoma in Nigeria
Trachoma simply put is an infection of the eye caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. The eyelashes get affected resulting in the damage of the cornea, hence, leading to blindness. It is, however, a completely preventable disease that can be treated easily. Roughly, three percent of blindness present in the world stems from this disease. Nigeria in particular has approximately eighteen million people at risk and 1.3 million currently infected (King, Jip & Othman, 2010). The World Health Organization took notice and extended its efforts to the Nigerian people.
Working with the World Health Organization, the Alliance for Global Elimination of Trachoma has set a goal to eradicate trachoma by 2020. This campaign is known as vision 2020 the right to sight (International Trachoma Initiative, 2012). A partnership has been formed between the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness and the Lions Club International Foundation. Financial benefits have been allocated to initiate teams to carry out the practice of SAFE (surgery for inward lashes, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement). This group as a whole is targeting practitioners who can diagnose, treat and educate their population about trachoma.
In addition, pharmaceutical companies are being recruited to donate antibiotics for treatment. Pfizer has joined the campaign against trachoma by the provision of a drug called Zithromax. Azithromycin is another drug that they have offered initially to be distributed in the northern parts of Nigeria. It is an orally prepared drug that is taken once or twice a year (Merson, 2005).
There are about four other organizations that are involved in the fight against trachoma in Nigeria. Helen Keller International, Sightsavers, Christoffel Blindenmission, and the Carter Center are the four organizations. Helen Keller works on educating the community, provision antibiotics, provision education, offer clinical checkups and surgery to treat trachoma. The Carter Center together with Sightsavers is more focused on the provision of preventive services through educating the population. Education is done in schools, in churches, at markets places, and in local social spots (Merson, 2005).
The Lions Club International Foundation has a special project that they have invested in that pays special attention to the children affected by this disease. The dream is to see the children of this country have one less obstacle to overcome. The goal is to ensure these children can remain healthy and receive good education (King, Jip & Othman, 2010). Clean-up crews together with educators have been deployed to help make their living environment more clean and habitable. The educators teach children how to fetch and attain clean water. In addition, they are taught basic hygiene and the importance of handwashing. This is very important because several cases have been reported as being spread from child to parent (International Trachoma Initiative, 2012). This has encouraged a solid foundation for the future leaders of the Nigerian people.
Nigeria has experienced great progress within the last few years. There has been a multitude of educational strategies circulating to push the importance of economic development for this country. Including in the education is the negative attribute it causes by rendering its victims unable to work and provide for their families. This only worsens the effects that the population has to endure. Also, the idea of temporary assistance, while the individual is being treated, has been supported. In as much as treating those currently infected is important, making provisions to hinder this from occurring in the future is of equal importance. The Nigeria National Program has made a goal to have no trachoma infections by 2015. This may come to fruition even sooner than expected. In 2010, with the assistance of the International Trachoma Initiative, the people of Nigeria received greater than 4.7 million Zithromax treatments. In addition, they saw 3.1 million people treated in 2011 (World Health Organization, 2012).
Challenges facing trachoma control need concerted efforts to make its eradication a reality. Control groups need to be encouraged to intensify their programs in every part of the country. The biggest need Nigeria has is the financial and educational aspects of advancing its economy. The positive aspect of eradicating this and other diseases is that there will be less money spent on disease and more money available to support the country’s economical growth. As the population finds itself healthier, it will be more productive and will lead to a better life.
King, J.D., Jip, N., & Othman, A. (2010). Mapping trachoma in Nasarawa and plateau states, central Nigeria. The British Journal of Opthalmology, 94(1),14-9.
International Trachoma Initiative. (2012). Nigeria at a glance. Web.
Merson, M. H. (2005). International public health: Diseases, programs, systems, and policies. Sudbury, Mass. [u.a.: Jones and Bartlett Publ.
World Health Organization. (2012).Trachoma. Web.