Inspiring Ugandans Save Communities From River Blindness

site geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>River blindness is a fly-borne parasitic infection, ambulance which can cause intense itching, buy information pills eyesight damage, and often blindness.

Lifelines: The End Is in Sight focuses on three health heroes overcoming river blindness in Uganda, where NGOs have now shifted their focus from controlling the disease to eliminating it entirely.

Since 2007, river blindness has been interrupted in six of 18 focus areas where the disease was endemic.

Ephraim Tukesiga forces himself to get bitten by the flies that cause river blindness – all in the name of science.

He then sets up a field laboratory to test whether the flies he has caught carry the parasite that causes the disease.

Ephraim says that around 250 microfilaria or baby worms can be found in just four milligrams of skin. “So you can imagine the itching when someone says he has sleepless nights,” he says.

Moses Katabarwa’s studies led him to a revolutionary way of distributing medication that would improve the lives of many of his countrymen.

His idea was simple: let people in small communities take control of distributing their own sight-saving medicine.

This inspired approach has meant that in Uganda, river blindness is being eliminated one area at a time. His method is now being extended to other countries plagued by the disease.

“My first experience with river blindness was in western Uganda, where I found a community totally devastated by this disease. These guys couldn’t do much for themselves and so that gave me a cause to fight for,” Moses says.

“When it comes to the work I’m doing, I feel that I’ve touched many lives, touched people who have never been reached, and so that gives me the inner satisfaction. Emotionally I am at home; I am at peace.”

David Oguttu is a parasitologist with the Ministry of Health in Uganda. He is a senior lab technician at a laboratory in Kampala, one of the first of its kind for river blindness research in Africa.

Since the laboratory was set up in 2007, morbidity levels have decreased and all affected communities are being reached.

David is committed to eliminating the disease. “You can do nothing greater in the community than eliminating the diseases which are haunting them,” he says.

The End Is In Sight premieres in Uganda at 23h00 this Thursday, 17 April 2014.


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