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Young people of the Commonwealth: A crucial force in the fight against trachoma
© Karel Prinsloo/ Sightsavers

Young people of the Commonwealth: A crucial force in the fight against trachoma

Today is Commonwealth Day. Home to 2.2 billion people, a quarter of the world’s population, the Commonwealth is today celebrating and promoting the values which unite it, and this year in particular, the incredible contribution young people are making to societies and to the Commonwealth as a whole.

Children are very powerful campaigners because they reach out with enthusiasm to their peers and advocate at home and in their community

In Kenya, where young people make up 75% of the population, the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is working with members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control to fully eliminate blinding trachoma in the country by 2019.

Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of avoidable blindness and most commonly affects children. It is predominantly found in poor communities that have limited access to water and sanitation. It is easily spread through the discharge that develops in the infected child’s eye, and is passed on by hands, on clothing, or by flies that
land on an infected child’s face.

Promoting face washing in trachoma endemic communities is a crucial component of the WHO-endorsed SAFE Strategy that the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is implementing across Kenya to reduce the spread of infection. The Trust’s Trachoma Initiative, which is being led by Sightsavers in Kenya, has teamed up with Unilever’s health soap Lifebuoy to pilot a behavior change programme in ten schools in Turkana, Kenya, to encourage children to regularly wash their faces.

Mary Muturi, a Programme Manager for Sightsavers, has written a blog documenting the incredible difference young people, equipped with enthusiasm and a passion to make a difference in their communities, have made in helping to reduce the spread of trachoma.

Click here to read the blog.