Posts Tagged: “Trachoma”

The Front Line of Eye Health

This blog post was written by Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Regional Director of West Africa.

MAMBIRI, KITA  (MALI), July 3, 2013. When we arrived at the community health center in the village of Mambiri, there was already a throng of patients waiting. In the days prior, the local health workers had canvassed the area surrounding Mambiri, informing people that a team would be visiting to conduct trachoma screening and surgery for those with trichiasis. The team consisted of three ophthalmological nurses who have traveled from Mali’s capital city, Bamako. The team is mid-way through a ten day circuit of the local health centers, in remote communities such as Mambiri. The team works with the local health center staff to get the word out, to screen and to follow up patients who need further care or treatment.

Nurse Adama Sangaré (left) and the Eye Health team in Mali. Photo: c. HKI/Douglas Steinberg

One nurse, Adama Sangaré, works the through the crowd who are seated along with wall under the awning of the health center, consulting with each individual. They come with a variety of eye care issues, many of which can be easily treated with tetracycline or other antibiotics, and the patients sent on their way. Some will present issues, such as cataracts, that are referred to the district or regional hospital. Around a half dozen will require surgery for trichiasis, which is performed on the spot by two other nurses. Their goal is to perform an average of seven operations a day.

I am greatly impressed by the team of nurses. They are skilled in their work, and take the time to discuss (in the local language Bamabara) with each patient. They advise the patients how to avoid getting infected again, for example through face washing. The few who need surgery are coached through the procedure, with gentle words. The operation is fairly painless (patients say), but it still takes some nerve to submit to it. And all go away pleased with the results. The health care workers who provide this service are working in very basic conditions. They are away from home long periods, staying in remote areas with no amenities – not even running water or electricity. They are really the front line of eye health in Mali, and they perform their work with great pride and good cheer.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Timbuktu, Terrorism, Trachoma

For centuries Mali has been known for the mythical city of Timbuktu. Unfortunately, events in the last two years have also made it known for terrorism. In public health circles it has long been known as a major part of the trachoma belt – a band of Africa where the leading infectious cause of blindness is concentrated. Our trip up North made us hope that Timbuktu will be resurgent and that the days of terrorism will be but distant, if painful, memories. Today’s trip also gave great hope that trachoma, which has caused so much suffering for generations of Malians, will be consigned to the past and that the country can look forward to a future free of this scourge.

We are accompanying a columnist from The New York Times, Nick Kristof, and his annual “Win-A-Trip” participant, Erin Luhmann and their videographer, Ben Solomon during their West Africa visit. Today we left the capital of Mali, Bamako, to head to the Kita district. more…

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Cameroon Completes its NTD Map

This article was written by Emily Toubali and Claire Coveney from HKI and was originally published in the March/April 2013 article of USAID’s Frontlines (scroll to second article).

After flipping tens of thousands of eyelids and spending countless hours peering into a microscope, a critical step toward the control and elimination of five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Cameroon has been reached.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Saving Sight on World Sight Day

Yayé Tounakar receiving eyelid surgery

By Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa.

I have visited several of Helen Keller International (HKI) programs to control Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and blogged about them here. Among the main NTDs that HKI works to control is trachoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Meeting My “Daughter” in Niger

An inside look into HKI's trachoma control activities in Niger and Mali.
Ladies

Post by Emily Toubali, HKI’s Program Manager of Neglected Tropical Disease Control. Photos by Emily Toubali and Aryc Mosher.

Amina Nouhou lived for over 20 years with the searing pain of trichiasis, the final stage of the blinding disease of trachoma.  Each time she blinked, the eyelashes of her left eye scraped her cornea.  I cannot even begin to imagine the extreme discomfort she silently endured each day.  She woke up, cleaned her house, and cooked meals for her family, in constant suffering from this excruciating condition.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

In London, A Gold for Trachoma

Trachoma mapping will aid global effort to rid the world of Neglected Tropical Diseases
mr. coker

This post was written by Chad MacArthur, Helen Keller International’s Director of Neglected Tropical Disease Control.

Days before the Olympics opened in London, I attended meetings at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the city was beginning to bustle with excitement. My interest was in something completely different.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently awarded our partner organization, Sightsavers, 10.6 million pounds ($16.4 million) to spearhead the completion of the global mapping of trachoma. There are currently more than 1,200 districts throughout the world that are suspected of being endemic for this blinding disease but we have no scientific information to verify this suspicion. more…

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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

Connecting Nutrition and Neglected Tropical Diseases

HKI experts make the case to include nutritional interventions in programs that treat NTDs.
Cameroon Drug Distribution

HKI’s Shawn Baker, Yaobi Zhang, and Chad MacArthur recently contributed to an article on the role of nutrition in controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases published in the journal, BMC Medicine. Below is a blog about the article, which originally appeared on BioMed Central Blog, that argues this research could have major implications for the way NTD programs are delivered in the future.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of poverty-associated chronic infectious diseases, which are endemic in poor and rural populations in the developing countries of Africa, America and Asia. NTDs affect over 1.4 billion people worldwide and cause severe morbidity and mortality; their impact in sub-Saharan Africa is comparable to malaria or tuberculosis. The diseases, which include river blindness, leprosy and intestinal worms, are transmitted by insect bites or worms in the soil, and are easily spread in areas with poor sanitation.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

A Mother’s Day Story

How one woman's bravery inspired HKI's Peggy O’Neill.
Margaret with Peggy

This blog is written by Peggy O’Neill, HKI’s Vice President of Development, Individual Giving.

“I’d tremble too, if a stranger was about to put a sharp scalpel to my eyelid,” was all I could think as I watched Somoe Abdalah prepare for trichiasis surgery. I walked up to her and gently took her hand in mine. Tears immediately began to roll down her cheeks, and soon after, I was crying too.

I didn’t expect to get emotional as I got in a jeep that morning to observe HKI’s Trachoma program in a remote Tanzanian village, but there was something about seeing this woman, my own age, lying on an exam table awaiting surgery that particularly moved me. She was trying so hard to be brave, but her trembling showed her fear.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Integrated NTD control in Mali

Lessons learned in Mali can serve as example for other countries implementing integrated NTD programs.
Mali Map PLOS

This post was written by Amy Alabaster and first appeared on the End the Neglect blog.

In many parts of the world where NTDs run rampant, it’s not uncommon to see communities affected by 2, 3 or even all seven of the most common NTDs. Because of this, countries and other stakeholders involved in NTD control are increasing efforts to integrate disease control programs. Integration helps to reach more people with the drugs needed to treat and prevent NTD infections, while cutting down on costs and resource demands.

In 2007, Mali was one of five ‘fast-track’ countries, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), managed by RTI International and assisted by Helen Keller International, to launch an integrated national NTD Control Program. A paper recently published in the Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) NTDs describes the successes and lessons learned so far through the implementation of this program.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Meet HKI’s Friendly Worm Warrior: Emily Toubali

An interview with HKI's Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Disease Control
Moyamba 2

In honor of World Water Day, I am highlighting Helen Keller International’s Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Disease Control, Emily Toubali. One of her responsibilities it to manage our Trachoma Control Programs, a major component of which is promoting face-washing and proper sanitation to prevent this blinding disease. I recently sat down with Emily and asked her about her background, what drew her to the career she has today, and why water is so important to global health.

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Categories Africa, Helen Keller, Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles