Conjunctivitis outbreak and control faces challenges in Dowa

By Vincent Gunde

Loyce Banda…. Conjunctivitis is a preventable disease

The District Health Promotion Office in Dowa, says lack of resources to implement surveillance activities on Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) disease and lack of knowledge among health workers on Acute Conjunctivitis disease, is hampering the disease control in the district.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammatory or infection of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball, the white of the eyes appears reddish or pink when small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed and they are more visible.

In Malawi, Viral Conjunctivitis started in February, 2024 and as now, it has affected many districts across the country including Dowa, Dowa district started registering pink eye diseases on 13th March, 2024 and to date, it has registered 22 cases.

Briefing the District Health Promotion Committee for Dowa at a meeting held at the boma, Integrated Disease Surveillance Response Coordinator for the district Loyce Banda, said 5 T/As are affected which includes’ Chiwere, Mkukula, Msakambewa, Mponela and Dzoole.

Banda said exposure to someone infected with the viral or bacteria form of conjunctivitis, using contact lenses frequently and microbial infection are the risk factors that have made conjunctivitis to spread in the district.

She said viral and bacteria conjunctivitis spread through direct or indirect contact with the eye secretions of someone who is infected saying adults and children can develop viral conjunctivitis while bacterial conjunctivitis is more common in children than adults.

The coordinator said Conjunctivitis has some signs and symptoms such as itchiness, body aches, redness of the eye or inner eyelids, swelling of the eyelids, running nose, sore throat and pain which can be severe in cases of irritants, among others.

“It is advisable that everyone who sees these signs and symptoms must visit any nearest health facility for early treatment,” said Banda.

She said there are lifestyle and home remedies that can be used to prevent conjunctivitis such as applying cold compress on the eye, trying eye drops, stop wearing contact lenses, reduce exposure to light, prevent rubbing of the eyes and use of dark sunglasses.

Banda said Conjunctivitis can be prevented by practicing good hygiene to control its spread by not touching eyes with hands, washing hands with soap often, using clean towels or washing clothes daily, not sharing towels or wash clothes and changing pillow cases often, among others.

She said the District Health Office lined up a number of activities to create awareness of conjunctivitis disease through community sensitization, community engagement through community structures, health education messages and follow up cases.

The coordinator finally advised parents and guardians whose children have developed signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis disease not to send them to school and they may return to school when they no longer experience rediness of the eyes.

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