When Operation Eyesight drilled our first well in Kenya in 2007, we were following the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE (Surgery, Antibiotics, Face-washing, Environmental change) strategy to eliminate painful, blinding trachoma. Thanks to our amazing donors, we’ve made great progress on that goal, so much that we’re now part of a plan to completely eradicate trachoma from Kenya by 2019!
Because trachoma is a bacterial infection caused by poor sanitation and is spread by flies, eliminating it won’t be easy. But by working with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, and other non-profits like our friends at Fred Hollows Foundation, we’re confident it can be done.
Our efforts are focused on Kenya’s Narok and West Pokot regions, where our donors are helping us dramatically improve the lives of many people. Their generosity is allowing us to drill boreholes to improve sanitation and prevent the spread of trachoma. The construction of latrines and the provision of clean water for face washing is essential in stopping the cycle of repeated trachoma infections that impact victims of this awful disease.
That support is also allowing us to train eye care professionals, since Kenya has just one ophthalmologist for every 450,000 people. Those trained professionals are performing more surgeries to alleviate trichiasis, the painful result of repeated trachoma infections that turns the eyelids in, causing the eyelashes to scrape the eyeball. Because of our donors, we’re also able to provide mass campaigns of antibiotic distribution to cure those currently suffering from the bacteria that causes trachoma.
There are other benefits to our approach of providing clean water and improving sanitation. They include increased enrollment of pupils and retention of teachers in schools where boreholes have been developed, reduction of incidences of other water borne diseases, and increased time and productivity, especially for women and girls.
We want our donors to know that our dream of ending this painful, blinding disease in Kenya is possible because of them. We join millions of Kenyans in saying “Thank you!” to the people who are making this amazing progress possible!