Surgical boost to cut trachoma in Kenya

People living with trachoma blindness in one of Kenya’s largest provinces will now have the chance to receive sight-saving eye surgery sooner with the addition of two new specialists to the region.

The Foundation is partnering with the Nakuru Eye Unit in north-west Kenya to provide training for eye nurses to upgrade their skills and become trachoma specialists.

Trachoma, a blindness-causing infectious eye disease, is endemic in Kenya. It is the second most common cause of avoidable blindness in the country. The new graduates bring the total number of specialists trained last year to 46, helping to increase treatment rates across the country.

As part of their training, the trachoma nurses screened the eyes of local people for preventable conditions in the Rift Valley Province in the country’s north-west. They then helped perform 100 sight-saving surgeries on patients.

On graduating, they received vital eye care equipment as part of the program, equipping them to help perform future trachoma surgeries.

While the number of trained eye specialists in Kenya has increased in recent years, eye health services are currently concentrated in urban centres.

Of the 18 districts where trachoma is endemic, 11 are in the Rift Valley Province. More than six million people live in the province and are at risk of infection.

The Foundation has been working with the Department of Ophthalmic Services in Kenya on its trachoma program since 2004. The program expanded last year to include the East Pokot districts in the Rift Valley.

Professor Fred Hollows drew the Australian public’s attention to the problem of trachoma in remote Indigenous communities in the late 1970s. He led a team of eye specialists who set out to eliminate the disease.

Today, The Foundation is continuing his work to eliminate trachoma in countries around the world, including Kenya.

>Find out more about the Kenya program.
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