Doctors fear possible trachoma resurgence

Kathmandu, June 13

Nepal is the first country in the South East Asia Region to be validated by World Health Organisation for having eliminated trachoma. However, doctors are worried about a possible resurgence of the disease due to the open border with India.

“One of the major challenges in keeping the country trachoma-free is the open border with India,” said Dr Tirtha Prasad Mishra, chairman of Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh. He said the number of Indian nationals visiting eye hospitals in Nepal for treatment was more than Nepali citizens.

As per the data with Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh, of the total 350,000 patients who visited eye hospitals in the country in a year, 125,000 patients were Nepali citizens while 225,000 patients were from India.

“Not only from India, people from Bangladesh and Bhutan also visit eye hospitals in the country for treatment,” he added. Trachoma, an eye disease caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection is transmitted through contact with eye and nose discharge of infected people and is particularly common among young children. Ocular or nasal discharge can be transmitted directly from person to person, or be mediated by flies which have been in contact with the eyes and noses of infected people.

Transmission is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, which increase the availability of eye discharges and encourage the breeding of flies.

Trachoma puts more than 190 million people at risk of blindness in 41 countries. It is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of around 1.9 million people worldwide.

“It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Population to make people aware of the safety precautions to be adopted to keep themselves safe for the disease,” said Sailesh Kumar Mishra, executive director at NNJS.