Through the collaboration of the Yemen Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, Sightsavers and a few other organizations, antibiotic treatments were distributed through 273 villages in Yemen, a country undergoing a civil war. Dangerous conflict zones and roadbocks make it hard for humanitarians to reach people in need of aid, not to mention, the every day lives of residents are threatened on a regular basis. About two and a half million Yemenis are at risk of contracting the bacterial infection, which spreads rampantly in places with crippling water supplies and poor sanitation. And it spreads more easily among children.
A team of four thousand volunteers, who were mostly women because local customs make it difficult for strange men to enter homes to treat women and children, traveled to the hard-to-reach Al Hodeidah and Ibb regions to administer the medication. They were escorted by local health officials. Over four hundred thousand doses of Zithromax donated by Pfizer were used, and soap and hygiene tips were also handed out alongside the medication. Simon Bush, Sightsavers Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases, acknowledged the immense effort it took for the organizations involved to help those in need, especially in a region where danger is readily present. He also noted that it was necessary to help those who were suffering from the treatable disease, adding that the people in areas suffering from conflict should not be left behind.
Trachoma affects the eyelids of the afflicted. The inner surface becomes rough by way of tissue that has undergone granulation (like a scab forming over a small wound). This layer rubs against the cornea, often leading to pain. If left untreated, a person who has experienced several instances of trachoma can eventually go blind. This disease is easily treatable, which Sightsavers and collaborators have proven through the distribution of antibiotics. The real culprit in this situation is circumstance; that is the current hostile state of the country and the worsening water infrastructure and sanitation that occurs as a result.
Sightsavers and company are planning to continue their humanitarian efforts, reaching out to other areas of the country in need and also treating those with trichiasis, the advanced stages of trichoma. According to ncbi, it is the leading cause of blindness caused by infections in the world. They have noted two thousand cases of trichiasis in Yemen, which they will address when they raise enough money to pay for the surgery that can ease the pain and possibly save the eyesight of the afflicted.