Posted by Joy McCaffrey on May 10, 2018
Our Speaker for this meeting is PDG Ian Dyball who spoke to us about ending Trachoma by 2020.
He explained that Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. The disease disappeared from Australian cities and towns over 100 years ago. We remain the last developed country in the world where Trachoma is endemic in Indigenous communities in regions of Western and Central Australia.
It persists in some of our outback Indigenous communities. It does so in communities where living standards are inadequate, where there is a lack of functional, maintained washing facilities, and where homes are overcrowded. Where personal and community hygiene practices allow the frequent spreading of infected secretions from one child to
another and although trachoma is easily treated with antibiotics, it is the frequent recurrent infections that damage the eyelids and cause blindness. The long term solution rests with hygiene and education. This spread of Trachoma occurs by hands, clothing, shared towels, bedding, and from flies which have contacted runny eyes or noses.

In 2008, Australia joined the World Health Organisation in their global goal to eliminate trachoma by 2020 and committed to extensive funding of programs aimed at  trachoma’s elimination. Since then, a coordinated effort to treat trachoma with antibiotics and promote hygiene saw levels of trachoma reduce from 21%, to 4.6% in 2015. However, to stop trachoma transmission and to stop trachoma bouncing back, we must work on prevention. We must make sure all children in these communities can keep their faces clean, and that they have safe, functional washing facilities. Australian Government funding is largely allocated to screening for and treating trachoma. 

Led by the Rotary Club of Melbourne, EndTrachoma by 2020 unites Rotary clubs across Australia, to work towards eliminating trachoma by preventing the spread of infection that causes this avoidable blindness. This project is endorsed by 2017-18 Rotary International President, Australian Ian Riseley, and Zone Director Noel Trevaskis, and has been endorsed as a project to commemorate Rotary Australia’s centenary year in 2021.
“We need to have all Rotary Clubs in Australia galvanized into action to make sure this project succeed” said Rotary International President Ian Riseley.
This Rotary partnership has identified ways that Rotarians can support some of our least advantaged Australians improve their health and wellbeing.
What are the projects that we can support?
1. The installation of mirrors in homes can facilitate pride in oneself and highlight hygiene issues. Thousands of 300mm square acrylic stick on mirror tiles have been enthusiastically received by families. Cost $15 for 3 tiles.
2. Provision of personal care kits to include a microfiber face-washer for each person; $4 per child.
3. The conduct of soap making workshops is a respectful and sensitive introduction to personal hygiene which could lead to a sustainable industry for the community.
4. Installation of communal laundry facilities: washing machines and bathrooms with showers.
Ian also showed short videos by Lien Trihn, Project Manager, Rotary Foundationr and qualified public health worker and also by Rotary’s 2017-18 International President, Australia’s Ian Riseley, who are both working to have a trachoma-free Australia.
Past President Murray suggested that we could undertake a project to provide soaps, particularly those soaps from motels.
Thank you Ian for this informative talk and for the insight into this issue. Let’s all work together to assist in helping Murray in some small way to achieve the goal of providing soaps for this project.