How is Operation Eyesight combating blinding trachoma in Kenya? Dr. Steve Mukiri, an ophthalmologist at the Narok District Hospital, reports on the local war against trachoma. (Read Part 1.)
Before any Mass Drug Administration (MDA) exercise can kick off, our teams conduct intensive planning, lobbying and resource mobilization.
The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) requisitions in advance the trachoma antibiotic medication from Pfizer, with specific quantities calculated by the district pharmacist. Drugs are collected from Nairobi and transported to sentinel sites for easy access. Meanwhile, public education is conducted in the community before beginning the activity, along with recruiting and training field personnel.
Once everything is organized and scheduled, the MDA exercise begins. Each division is tackled separately in order to maximize field staff and supervision by the eye unit team and district health team. Field tallying and data input is done while in the field. Laptops are crucial, as many places have no electricity.
While the circumstances remain challenging, we are happy to report that logistics and travel have become easier. In 2012, Operation Eyesight donors funded a new 4×4 vehicle for our eye health program, which has contributed to the great success of the MDAs. The rugged Toyota Hilux can handle the rough roads, so now supervisory teams can move easily across the harsh terrain, and field staff can move to needy areas to complete tasks quickly and effectively.
Prior to receiving the new vehicle, movement was difficult, expensive and unreliable. Any movement of the eye care team required us to borrow a vehicle from another department. Whenever we borrowed a vehicle, a promise to service it, repair or replace a certain part was coerced out of us, which sometimes puts us in a tight spot. Dipping into our own pockets was becoming the norm for the program to succeed!
We are very grateful for the Canadian Auto Workers’ generous donation of the vehicle to Narok. It has really motivated us and eased the difficulty and stress of running the eye care program. The residents of Narok really benefit from its presence; and if they are happy, so are we! We recently completed the fifth division out of the six MDAs and the trend is impressive. We are optimistic that we shall surpass last year’s record.
Special thanks to Dr. Steve Mukiri for his report. Operation Eyesight greatly appreciates the Canadian Auto Workers union and their Social Justice Fund. By funding this much-needed vehicle, you are helping make possible a victory against trachoma in Narok!