Currently, 3.6 million individuals in South Sudan suffer from trachoma. Trachoma starts with a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis, which enters the nose or eyes of a person and causes permanent blindness if not treated properly. Trachoma mostly affects rural and nomadic individuals in South Sudan because of limited access to safe water and sanitation, infrequent trips to medical clinics and dealing with cattle.
The Government of South Sudan, The Carter Center and Sightsavers attempt to eradicate trachoma in South Sudan with universal health coverage, distributing antibiotics, providing corrective surgeries, promoting sanitation classes and building proper human waste disposals in the communities.
The Government of South Sudan
To help out the most vulnerable individuals, the Government of South Sudan provides free healthcare to all citizens. Since native and nomadic communities live in isolated areas and do not stay put in one place for too long, healthcare workers go into their communities to administer medical care. State employees learned to track the constant movement of the pastoralists to wait for their arrival. Consequently, 6,650 citizens who never visited a clinic in the village received treatment for trachoma in the safety of their communities.
Sightsavers came to South Sudan in 2009 and strives to prevent vulnerable individuals from going blind. More specifically, the organization provides medication and corrective surgeries to citizens in South Sudan who suffer from trachoma.
First, Sightsavers partnered with the government to provide eye treatment to vulnerable individuals. Next, 5,100 citizens of these regions carried out the task of handing out medication to the locals. These volunteers went to rural and isolated places that do not have access to Western medication. In just 2018 alone, Sightsavers provided around 546,000 medications to cure trachoma and other eye conditions.
Next, the organization assists health professionals in visiting isolated areas. Once the workers arrive at their destination, they spend over a week providing around 200 corrective eye surgeries for individuals suffering from trachoma and cataracts. These surgeries changed the lives of citizens who dropped out of school or do not work due to their eye condition.
The Carter Center
The Carter Center began assisting South Sudan in 1986 before its independence. The Center strives to maintain peace in the nation, provide quality healthcare and teach the citizens how to produce more food. More specifically, the organization strives to eradicate trachoma in South Sudan with the implementation of the SAFE strategy.
The SAFE strategy signifies “surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement.” Beginning in 2000, the Center helped fund 10,000 corrective eye surgeries in South Sudan. Secondly, the organization provided close to four million doses of the antibiotic Zithromax. Next, the Center helped support sanitation classes in almost 4,000 communities and the erection of more than 6,000 bathrooms.
Many individuals living in remote areas in South Sudan suffer from the deteriorating effects of trachoma. With the help of the government and nonprofit organizations, citizens can access long-term relief from their symptoms and prevent future infection. The optimism and determination of the citizens to find a cure and get better forecasts a positive outlook for the eradication of trachoma in South Sudan.
– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva