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A Team of Kenyan Medics Tackle Blindness in Rural Areas

Trachoma is the most common infectious cause of blindness in the world. Kenya aims to eliminate the disease in four years, helped by teams who traverse desert and bushland to reach scattered communities. Samson Lokele was the first surgeon in Turkana, Kenya’s least developed area. Since qualifying 10 years ago Lokele has performed 3,500 trachoma operations. The NGO Sightsavers helps to coordinate the programme. Lokele travels widely across desert and bush to care for Turkana’s nomadic communities. He also works at the Kakuma refugee camp. The region has a population of 1.25 million. Since Lokele began operating, Turkana has gone from having the highest trachoma prevalence in Kenya to the lowest. Turkana’s trachoma team has grown in 10 years: there are now eight surgeons, 16 ophthalmic nurses, three optometrists, 38 assistants, 250 community health workers, and close to 2,000 volunteers, who usually travel by motorbike. When patients needing surgery are identified, mobile theatres are set up.