International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) estimates that 53 million people are living in trachoma-endemic areas of Nigeria.
After receiving its first donation of Zithromax®, to be taken orally, from Pfizer for trachoma control, Nigeria distributed 1,100,197 doses through mass drug administration (MDA) in ten districts in five states.
Benjamin Nwobi, the National Coordinator for Nigerias National Program for the Prevention of Blindness, an initiative under the Federal Ministry of Health, stated that the Northern geo-political zones of Nigeria fall within the WHO-classified Trachoma Belt’ where trachoma contributes significantly to this avoidable blindness.
Nwobi confirms that:
the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health plans to expand distribution to 22 districts in seven states in 2011 in collaboration with its in-country partners CBM (formerly Christoffel Blindenmission), The Carter Center, and Sightsavers. Under the leadership of the National Program, ITI hopes to gradually help scale-up the Zithromax® donation to all trachoma-endemic states of Nigeria that are prepared to implement the full SAFE strategy.
To combat trachoma, World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed an integrative strategy called SAFE. All components of this strategy must be complete in order to successfully complete a trachoma control program.
Surgery for people at immediate risk of blindness Antibiotic therapy to treat individual active cases and reduce the community reservoir of infection Facial cleanliness and improved hygiene to reduce transmission Environmental improvements to make living conditions better so that the environment no longer facilitates the maintenance and transmission of trachoma
In 2010, Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of Zithromax® reached five Nigerian trachoma-endemic states: Nassarawa and Plateau in the central region, and Sokoto, Kebbi, and Zamfara in northern Nigeria.
Trachoma is the worlds leading cause of preventable blindness. It is a communicable infectious disease caused by chlamydia trachomatis bacterium. Symptoms of infections are not immediately visible and people who are infected are not immediately blind. It is often transmitted in childhood, and it is when one reaches adulthood do severe symptoms appear. Trachoma tends to breed in areas with poor access to clean water and sanitation and Africa is reported to be the most affected continent though Latin America, Middle East, Asia and Western Pacific all have several reported endemic cases. ITI, in collaboration with several other organizations, designed the Trachoma Atlas which maps out trachoma-endemic regions of the world.
Trachoma is a common neglected tropical disease (NTD) and thankfully, collaborative efforts, like those demonstrated by ITI, have been working hard to give this preventable disease a resounding voice.