Mozambique launches the Trust’s Initiative to end blinding trachoma

Mozambique launches the Trust’s Initiative to end blinding trachoma

Maputo, Mozambique: The Trust is today delighted to be joined by the Ministry of Health at the launch of its historic Trachoma Initiative, which sees the Trust, government of Mozambique and members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) unite to make significant advances towards the elimination of blinding trachoma in Mozambique.

Of the 229 million people living in trachoma endemic districts globally, about 12.2 million of them live in endemic areas in Mozambique. Trachoma slowly and painfully robs people of their sight, as repeated infection turns eyelashes inwards, scraping the cornea and eventually causes irreversible blindness. Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop blinding trachoma.

By 2020, the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative will:
  • Provide more than 6,000 surgeries in four provinces to people with advanced stages of blinding trachoma, known as trichiasis, to correct their in-turned lashes. This is set to reduce the ultimate intervention goal of 7,498 trachoma surgeries by more than 80 percent in targeted provinces
  • Improve community health messages on effective hygiene and sanitation practices
  • Work with others at all levels – global, national and district – to improve access to safe water sources and sanitation in the programme areas.

New capacity-building initiatives, retraining, strengthened quality control and follow up will underpin the programme. The Trachoma Initiative in Mozambique is being coordinated by RTI and delivered by ICTC members Sightsavers and Light for the World.

Sharone Backers, Resident Program Advisor, Mozambique, RTI International said:

We are excited to be continuing our relationship with the Government of Mozambique and thankful that the Trust can help expand our efforts, for example, by supporting simple surgical procedures to reverse the damaging effects of advanced trachoma. With the correct tools in place, this programme can make significant advances towards eliminating blinding trachoma. By tackling this disease, not only will the national programme help save the sight of people in Mozambique and elsewhere, but it will enable children and young people to stay in education, and allow people to go out to work and support themselves and their families.

Between 2014 and 2019, The Trust plans to eliminate blinding trachoma as a public health problem in Kenya and Malawi and make significant advances towards elimination in Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda. It will also tackle the disease in Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and Australia.

The Initiative is based on a large-scale programme of surgery, antibiotic distribution, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement initiatives. This tried and tested strategy, known as SAFE, is endorsed by the World Health Organization and has already yielded strong results in other Commonwealth countries such as Ghana.

Sir John Major, Chairman of the Trust said:

I am delighted that the Trust is working with the Government of Mozambique to support their work in eliminating blinding trachoma across the country. Through this Initiative, the Trust seeks to make a real and enduring difference to people who are needlessly blind, in the name of Her Majesty The Queen.