Uganda:24,000 go blind in Karamoja

Published by Daily Monitor
On 19 September 2016 saa 02:23
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High incidence of blindness attributed to poor hygiene and sanitation.

At least 24,000 people in Karamoja sub-region have gone blind after being attacked by trachoma and cataract diseases, according to a report by Sight Savers Uganda.
The report indicates that the highest incidence of blindness is in Amudat District.The mass blindness has prompted government to dispatch eye care equipment to the sub-region to rescue the situation.

Sight Savers Uganda country director Johnson Ngorok, while handing over the eye care equipment worth Shs400m to Moroto Regional Referral Hospital last week, said blindness in Karamoja stands at 0.6 per cent, higher than the national average of 0.3 per cent.
Dr Ngorok attributed the high incidence of blindness to poor hygiene and sanitation. He said 44 per cent of blindness in Karamoja is caused by cataract while trachoma accounts for 26 per cent.
Sight Savers Uganda has been holding health camps in the sub-region to respond to the blindness prevalence.

“At least 6,975 people have undergone surgical operation and treatment. By now, the number of treated people could have gone beyond this figure, but we are faced with the challenge of mobilising people to come for treatment,” Dr Ngorok explained.
“Last week in Amudat, some people ran away from the camp after they were deceived by some illiterate persons that Sight Savers is about plucking out their eyes,” he added.

He said there is urgent need for leaders in the sub-region to intervene in educating communities on dangers of having blind communities. “In our four-year project, there would be significant progress if the leaders in Karamoja could merely inform people here to rush for treatment at the hospitals and put more emphasis on elimination of blindness,” he said.

While commending Sight Savers Uganda for the donation, Dr Filbert Nyeko, the hospital director, said two eye specialists were sent for further studies and would be completing their courses in two years.

Dr Nyeko said if area residents continued washing hands after visiting toilets or pit-latrines and lived in clean environment, the blindness in the region would be tamed.

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Senior Ophthalmic Clinical Officer in Moroto hospital, Mr Charles Pariyo explains the use of the eye care equipment to other hospital staff.