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A joint Northern Territory and Federal Government program was launched last week in the remote Arnhem Land community of Maningrida to tackle the high levels of trachoma found in the community. In 2011, one in every four Maningrida residents were found to be suffering from the disease.
Federal Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon says the prevalence of trachoma is unacceptable. 'We are the only first world nation with endemic trachoma. It is something we can defeat and we are committed to defeating it,' he said.
A team of 18 medical staff from the Centre for Disease Control and the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre will be going door to door delivering antibiotics to each of the community's 3,000 residents to treat and prevent trachoma. Treatment is a single oral dose of the antibiotic Azithroymycin. This will be the fourth round of treatment for the community, with one more round to follow in six months time.
'We've been going from house to house and give medicine to all adults and children, and emphasising that to prevent the disease we need good facial hygiene,' explains Dr Charles Douglas, a public health physician and head of the trachoma program.
The program is being delivered with the help of a colourful mascot. 'We've got Milpa the Goanna, a mascot which spreads the message and people are getting much better at keeping the faces clean. We think we're getting there,' Dr Douglas said.
Dr Douglas says the community will be screened again a year later to see how successful the program has been. 'We've committed as a nation to eliminating trachoma by 2020, and we expect that to happen.'
Source: ABC News