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Sightsavers Instrumental in Making Trachoma Treatment Available in Yemen

One of the oldest diseases known to mankind is Trachoma, a bacterial infection of the eye. Trachoma is spread via human contact with an affected person and by flies. Left untreated, it can result in the formation of harmful scar tissue in the eyelid. This scar tissue causes the eyelashes to turn inward and scrape against the sensitive surface of the eyeball. This can cause irreversible blindness.

 

until recently it was impossible to distribute medications for treatment and hygiene products to people in war-torn Yemen, so the easily-preventable disease was rapidly spreading and causing permanent blindness. There are currently 2.5 million people at risk of contracting Trachoma in Yemen. This is due mainly to poor sanitation and no access to clean water.

 

Recently the pharmaceutical company Pfizer donated over 444,000 doses of the drug Zithromax to help fight Trachoma in Yemen. The medication was taken through roadblocks and combat zones into the rural regions of Ibb and Al Hodeidah, two of the areas where Trachoma is most prevalent.

 

The team that was put together to distribute the medication and give instructions on how to use it properly consisted of over 4,000 predominantly female volunteers. This was done because it is easier for females to gain entrance into homes to treat women and children due to local customs. The volunteers also took along kits donated by The World Health Organization containing soap and instructions on proper hygiene practices. These kits will be helpful in preventing further spread of the disease.

 

This was the first mass effort and administration of treatment in response to the Trachoma epidemic in Yemen. It was done via the collective efforts of the International Trachoma Initiative, Sightsavers, The World Health Organization, CBM, The Fred Hollows Foundation, and the Yemen Ministry of Health. The project was successful and there is now hope that the Trachoma epidemic in Yemen will come to an end.

 

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