Gaming the System: Winning the Fight Against Trachoma

Amref trachoma prevention

On a brightly colored mat laid under a tree, young children gather around a game designed by Amref. The game challenges the school children to find ways to protect themselves from Trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Ethiopia continues to carry the highest burden of active trachoma infection.

Trachoma, however, can be prevented by keeping the face clean and regularly checking the eyes. But in a dry and dusty terrain like Afar, it takes acute awareness to follow routine care.

Mahlet Moges is in seventh grade at Berta Primary and Junior school in Afar. She actively participates in the Amref Trachoma project’s intervention designed game. She and her friends huddle to figure out what personal hygiene and sanitation actions they can take to prevent trachoma and halt its transmission.

“The game is exciting and engaging with lots of enjoyable components. It is quite different from the regular classroom we attend. It makes us actively engaged in developing good hygiene behavior and pay attention to our eye health. With this knowledge we have about trachoma infection, we will no longer be at risk. Now I know the value of hand and face washing, as well as pit latrine usage. It is empowering to be able to take care of myself and take the knowledge back to my parents,” she says.

Parents like Momina Hassen, a mother of two living in Duho kebelle, got wind of what her children learned at school about trachoma, its adverse effects, and how to prevent it. 

“The campaign has also reached us, the senior people, and we have come to know a lot about the infection transmission and prevention mechanism. Now, after getting awareness, I became mindful of my children’s cleanliness. I have started washing my children’s face, and regularly checking their eyes. Since they spend a lot of time in the dust, they are easily exposed to diseases. The mirror Amref gave us is also very helpful. We can easily check our faces now and make sure we keep up the routine,” says Momina.

By thoughtfully aligning with the Ministry of Health’s and Regional Health Bureaus recommendations, Amref implements Trachoma Elimination programs in Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, and Gambella. We connect our disease prevention and control program with maternal and child health as well as WASH services. This not only provides a holistic and comprehensive quality of care, but also makes our service delivery points efficient and well-integrated.

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Gaming the System: Winning the Fight Against Trachoma