It was business as usual at Zimbabwe border posts yesterday despite threats by several groups, including the International Crossborder Traders Association (ICTA), to shut down all commercial activities, it has been learnt.
A Zimbabwean journalist based at Beit Bridge Border Post, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has said Malawi will eliminate trachoma, a serious eye infection, by 2020 if communities adhere to medical precautions and advice.
MoH assistant director in clinical services Michael Masika said elimination means reducing the trachoma cases to anywhere below five percent so that it is not considered a public health problem.
Masika said this during Nkhotakota full council meeting organised to alert the council on the final drug distribution phase which will be administered from August 22 this year.
He said Nkhotakota was one of the districts in the country which recorded high cases of trachoma at 12 percent which necessitated the drug distribution exercise in the area for three consecutive years to eliminate the infection.
The project is being funded by Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust.
Said Masika: “Trachoma is a preventable and reversible eye infection which, if carelessly handled, leads to blindness. Poor hygiene the spread of the disease through flies.and water shortage encourage
“We encourage chiefs, councillors, parliamentarians and other community leaders to help us address some challenges that contribute to the spread of this disease such as myths and cultural beliefs.”
He also expressed concern that some people refuse to take drugs due to religious beliefs while others believe they can only take drugs if they are feeling sick.
According to Masika, the drug distribution project will also include surgery, facial improvement and environmental cleanliness.
Masika said the Nkhotakota project was promising, with targets increasing from 82 percent in 2014 to 97 percent last year.
He advised the council to report any cases of drug theft to police to ensure success of the project.
Some councillors, however, outlined that some communities did not receive the last two treatments due to lack of communication and adequate health personnel.
Therefore, the council urged MoH to address such problems so that every community member is reached.
Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust programme manager Bright Chiwaula said the project has cost £5.7 million (about K5.6 billion).
Research indicates that all districts in Malawi, except Likoma, have traces of trachoma. The project will run through to 2019.