From: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
Trachoma elimination work in Nigeria has gotten a boost after UKaid announced new funding amounting to £20 million fund for ten common wealth states.
The country Director of Sightsavers Nigeria, Sunday Isiaka, disclosed this to the media in kaduna yesterday.
According to him, the funding will also support elimination efforts in Kenya, Kiribati, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Sightsavers Nigeria welcomes UK aid’s new funding commitment as a major boost to trachoma elimination efforts in the country, which currently has the world’s second highest trachoma rate.
Isiaka said Trachoma is an excruciating, yet preventable eye infection that can cause irreversible blindness. “It is caused by a bacterial infection that is spread by flies and human touch, and is linked to poverty and lack of access to clean water and sanitation
“The Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund announced this week (16 April 2018) by the UK Government’s Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, will enable millions of people in ten Commonwealth countries to avoid pain, potential blindness and poverty cycle due to trachoma.
“Nigeria is one of ten Commonwealth countries being supported by the new £20 million fund. In addition, the funding will support elimination efforts in: Kenya, Kiribati, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tonga and Vanuatu”.
He said, so far, Nigeria has made progress towards eliminating trachoma but 20 million people in the country are still at risk of blindness from the disease.
“The new Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund aims to provide the resources needed to help Nigeria make further progress towards ending trachoma.
“The new programme will be delivered by Sightsavers Nigeria, the Ministry of Health and members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control. In Nigeria, the fund aims to enable:
“Up to 30,000 people to be provided with eyelid surgery for trichiasis – the advanced stages of the disease
“Nearly 3 million people to be treated with antibiotics for trachoma
“More than 6,000 local people to be trained as Community Directed Distributors
“The collection of crucial trachoma data through surveys and support with elimination dossier preparation.
“The fund will also support the promotion of healthy hygiene and sanitation practices to improve awareness about how to stop trachoma from spreading by washing hands, faces and clothes
“Welcoming the announcement also, Dr Caroline Harper CBE, CEO of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind – more commonly known as Sightsavers – said: “Blinding trachoma is a horribly painful disease that has devastating effects on the people it affects and their communities.
“This new investment, from the Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund, will help us make huge strides towards eliminating this ancient scourge from the Commonwealth and will also encourage other donors to step forward.
“The Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund will carry forth the significant progress made in Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative and a network of other organisations.
“Announced during the week of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the fund will be coordinated by Sightsavers in Africa and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Asia and the Pacific. Sightsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation will deliver the programmes in close collaboration with ministries of health, local communities and other members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control.
Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight, fight neglected tropical diseases and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities”.