Treating Kubri for trachoma during the pandemic

Kubri lives in a village in Gurage Zone. She and her husband travelled for one hour using a bajaj, a three wheeled vehicle to get to the health center where we meet them. Kubri has six children - two sons and four daughters. Kubri sells “Enset1”, a local tree which is a staple food throughout SNNPR, which grows in her backyard.

Kubri tell us, “I had surgery for my upper eyelids previously at this health centre. Then I started having pain in my lower eyelids. It has been a while. It was after I gave birth to one of my daughters. She is in 8th grade now. So about 12 years.

“Even though I keep the necessary precautions, the infection came back. After struggling with the pain for several months, a radio announcement about the eye care service given here at Wolkite health centre reminded me to come back.

“Before having my first surgery 12 years ago, I was not sure about the cause of the pain in my eyes, but my eyelashes were rubbing my eye. I was unable to walk or sit. I had stinging pain. I tried to remove my eye lashes to ease the pain, but when the eyelashes grow again, the pain comes back all over again.

“I came right way fearing if it was trachoma when I heard the announcement on the radio. Then, after having surgery on both of my eyes, I was pretty much healthy. It then recurred 12 years later, affecting the lower lids of both eyes with a stinging pain.

“It has been two years since the re-infection, but I have not visited a health centre because all of my children were busy with school. Now that schools are closed because of the pandemic, I was advised to come here by one of my kids. My oldest daughter said I should get medical attention now because they are not going to school due to coronavirus lockdown.

“We haven’t had any coronavirus cases out here so far. It is all peaceful here. But when the pandemic started, my children from Addis Ababa brought me alcohol to be used as a sanitiser. They also told me to put soap and water at my door outside the house and keep my hygiene. We learnt about the outbreak of the virus from the radio and also our children were getting taught about it at school. My sons call me from the city and tell me to take precautions.

“In terms of our social interaction, we have been keeping our distance and staying at our house. We have avoided mass gatherings and group coffee ceremonies. We used to process “Enset” collectively but not anymore. We do things by ourselves now. Even processing “Enset”.

Kubri is very brave about her surgery. She said that since she had surgery on both of her eyes 12 years ago, she was not nervous about it now. She is fully confident that her pain will go away after her procedure.

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