Trachoma is a major public health problem in many regions of southern Ethiopia. Scarcity of water, poor personal hygiene and environmental sanitation, overcrowding and lack of awareness on trachoma and eye care in general are commonplace in Konso. These conditions will inevitably give rise to trachoma infections.
Konso is located 90km from Arbaminch in southern Ethiopia and has a population of 257,000. The Konso community is a dense, overpopulated area where it is difficult to establish and maintain proper sanitation facilities. These poor sanitary conditions mean that bacteria spread quickly and trachoma infections are common. Open field defecation around the periphery of the villages was a common phenomenon in the area until recently. Health education through trained teachers, health extension workers and integrated eye care workers, combined with the construction of model communal latrines has reduced the open field defecation practice.
Ato Temesgen Kabeto is the manager of this project and he works in collaboration with the Konso health office to plan, implement and follow-up the construction of the latrine until it is ready for use by the local communities. He had been working in the area as health officer and has experience in the public health aspect of the project. Construction of communal latrines starting from site selection up to the completion of the construction will take 2 to 4 months.
The average number of households using the communal latrine is about 80 which is approximately 480 individuals. The benefit that this improved sanitation has on the community in the long-term is significant. The active involvement of communities is central for the project to have a lasting impact. The construction of such latrines is to demonstrate to the local communities that the use of such facilities could reduce the disease transmission and maintain clean and healthy environment. Once communities understand the value and benefit of latrine use, they can then construct their own latrine from cheap local materials.
To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS are desperately trying to transform this region. ORBIS aims to eliminate trachoma from this region through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), educating locals on the importance of personal hygiene and improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines. The community is now aware of the many benefits of having such latrines and there have been requests for additional latrines. By improving the surrounding environment and sanitation, the incidence of trachoma will be reduced significantly. With your support we can continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.
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