Monday, 16 November 2009

[creative-radio] Toilets save eyesight, new study confirms

 

Toilets save eyesight, new study confirms

November 19 is world toilet day - and what the world needs now is more of
them.

CALGARY, Nov. 16 /CNW/ - Why in the world is an organization dedicated to
the treatment and prevention of blindness spending money on toilets?
"Because believe it or not, toilets and blindness are directly
connected," says Pat Ferguson, President & CEO of Operation Eyesight. "Proper
sanitation and clean water are in short supply in the developing world and
that contributes to a high rate of unnecessary blindness and other serious
health problems."
A new study conducted by Zambia's Ministry of Health and supported by
Operation Eyesight found that trachoma was 28 per cent more likely to strike
in households that do not have proper toilet facilities. The study, which
covered five districts in Zambia, found that up to 80 per cent of the
households surveyed do not have toilets.
"Trachoma is caused by a bacterium and is easily spread from person to
person and by flies which breed on human waste," says Ferguson. "So it's no
surprise that proper sewage disposal helps to prevent this horrible disease."
Trachoma is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness. In parts
of Zambia and Kenya where Operation Eyesight supports development projects
designed to eliminate trachoma, up to 30 per cent of children age one to nine
years are infected.
Without treatment, trachoma causes a person's eyelids to turn inward so
that the eyelashes constantly scrape the eyeball. It is extremely painful and
can lead to permanent blindness. The World Health Organization estimates more
than 80 million people are affected by trachoma and about 8 million suffer
the advanced stages of the disease and are visually impaired.
Operation Eyesight's trachoma projects are designed to both treat and
permanently eliminate trachoma. The projects follow the World Health
Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy which includes Surgery to treat the late
stage of the disease, Antibiotics to eliminate infection, Face washing and
hygiene promotion, and Environmental change including water wells and
latrines to prevent re-infection.
To be effective, the ambitious projects require construction of thousands
of latrines, drilling hundreds of wells, mass distribution of antibiotics and
training thousands of citizens in hygiene and well management.
"These projects are large and costly," says Ferguson, "But the benefits
are enormous. In addition to preventing unnecessary blindness, the SAFE
strategy dramatically reduces other serious diseases, helps keep children in
school and saves women the need to walk many kilometers in search of water,
which is usually unfit for human consumption."
Operation Eyesight is working in close partnership with the governments
of Kenya and Zambia and is a member of GET2020, the World Health Organization
initiative to eradicate trachoma from the entire world by 2020. For more
information about Operation Eyesight's trachoma projects, visit
http://www.operationeyesight.com.

Operation Eyesight is a Canadian international development organization
dedicated to preventing and treating blindness throughout the world for more
than 45 years - primarily in South Asia and Africa. We help local medical
professionals provide comprehensive, sustainable eye care and community
development for the people of the world who can least afford it. Since 1963,
Operation Eyesight has restored sight to more than two million people and
provided blindness prevention services to nearly 33 million others. For more
information, visit http://www.operationeyesight.com.

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