- In Tanzania, river blindness, trachoma and lymphatic filariasis, which are highly prevalent, should be the focus by health stakeholders on uplifting the poor from the disease menace.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which are highly communicable but preventable are poverty-related conditions or diseases that have remained neglected affecting millions of poor people worldwide.
In Tanzania, river blindness, trachoma and lymphatic filariasis, which are highly prevalent, should be the focus by health stakeholders on uplifting the poor from the disease menace.
According to the Program Officer for NTDs program, at the Ministry of Health, Dr Edward Kirumbi, was quoted saying that the shortage of equipment and experts has caused a lot of people to suffer from preventable health problems such as losing eyesight especially in remote areas.
The critical importance of hygiene
In order to accelerate and sustain the progress of NTD’s in Tanzania, Dr Kirumbi adds that there is a need to develop countrywide behavioural change campaign, to increase awareness to the community on the importance of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) because disease elimination cannot be achieved without improved sanitation.
“Joint effort to educate people those especially positioned in rural areas is important to provide them with awareness on the importance health sanitation because most of the time NTD occurs in areas where people are not hygienic,” he adds.
Reports say that one in three of the world’s 2.4 billion people do not have access to sanitation facilities or toilets out of these, 946 million still defecate in street gutters, behind buses or into bodies of water.
Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 diarrhoea deaths among children under five annually and it is a major factor in several NTDs and trachoma which affects more than 1.5 million people every year.
Still there are 663 million people globally who are missing to access on water services.
Trachoma, one of the most prevalent NTD in Tanzania causes infection in the eye, eventually leading to blindness – which can be completely preventable.
According to the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, early detection of eye problems and eye operations need special clinic but so far the country has limited facilities.
One million people are supposed to undergo eye surgeries every year, but due to lack of experts and equipment, only 2000 people are operated, however, this shows joint is needed to ensure improve eye problem.
WHO reports that facial cleanness forms part of the trachoma SAFE strategy which can help prevent trachoma.