Blantyre Institute for Community Outreach
B I C O

Malawi Onchocerciasis control program

Onchocerciasis, commonly known as “river blindness”, is an eye and skin disease caused by the microfilariae called Onchocerca volvulus which move around the human body in the subcutaneous tissue and induce intense inflammatory responses when they die. It is transmitted to humans through exposure to repeated bites of infected blackflies of the genus Simulium that breed along fast-flowing rivers and streams, close to remote villages located near fertile land where people mostly rely on agriculture. Infected people may show signs and symptoms such as severe itching, red and irritating eyes, skin nodules leading to visual impairment (blindness) and leopard skin development. The World Health Organization (WHO) has embarked on a consultation process to refine the 2030 goals for priority neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), onchocerciasis among them. In Malawi, BICO in collaboration with Ministry of Health with support from ASCEND is prepared to reach out to more than 2 million people with the Mass Drug Administration (MDA). The Oncho endemic districts being targeted in Malawi are Blantyre, Thyolo, Neno, Chikwawa, Mwanza, Chiradzulu, Phalombe and Mulanje. WHO’s goal is to eliminate Onchocerciasis by the year 2030 through Ivermectin mass drug administration. Currently, BICO team is working tirelessly in the field conducting trainings and supervising census in preparation for MDA in the 8 districts.

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The Child Blindness Project (CBP)

The low vision project is aimed at strengthening pediatric eye care for children aged 0 and 15 years in the northern districts of Malawi. The project links pediatric eye health with education and will be implemented over a period of 18 months. As a way of serving humanity, the project will help in identifying children with visual problems through eye screening, treatment and referral to district/ central hospitals where need be. All this is being made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID.

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2019 Trachoma Elimination Projecct

The fight against Trachoma continues as BICO conducted Surveillance Surveys in 5 districts where Impact Surveys had been done 2 years back. The surveys were successful in all districts; Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Dedza and Chikwawa.

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2018 Trachoma Elimination Project

In 2018, BICO conducted Malawi Trachoma Surveillance, Impact Assessment Surveys as well as TT-Only Surveys. This is a project that has been funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust since 2014 and was conducted in 30 Evaluation Units (EUs) which were equivalent to 900 clusters.

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Deworm3

Deworm3 is a five year project that is currently being carried out in Mangochi, Malawi by Ministry of Health through BICO in collaboration with College of Medicine. The project is being funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through Natural History Museum and the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This is aimed at determining whether community wide mass drug administration (MDA) of albendazole can interrupt the transmission of soil transmitted helminths (STH).

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Low Vision

This project is being implemented in three resource centres in southern Malawi. These are Montfort in Chiradzulu, Makande in Chikwawa and Nazombe in Phalombe districts. With funding from Lions Club of Netherlands, the project is involved in assessment of all children with refraction, low vision and surgical needs, facilitation of surgery for children with cataract and other eye conditions, provision of optical devices to all pupils in these resource centres and training of teachers and optometrists in basic low vision and advocacy for inclusive education and support of resource centres.

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Vision 2020 Eye Care Programme For South East Health Zone

This is a three year (2014 – 2016) project targeting all the six districts in the South East Health Zone – Mangochi, Balaka, Machinga, Zomba, Phalombe and Mulanje. It is funded by Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology. Cataract, Childhood blindness and Refractive Errors are major programme components besides staff and institutional capacity building.

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Mordor Study

MORDOR stands for "Mortality Reduction After Oral Azithromycin Treatment". The study, which is being implemented in Mangochi district, would like to test the hypothesis that mass distribution of Azithromycin, a drug that cures trachoma, reduces childhood mortality and morbidity. Several partners are involved in this project such as, College of Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of San Francisco and Bell & Melinda Gates Foundation who are the funders of the project. In this project, BICO will be conducting Census, MDA and Drug Coverage survey while College of Medicine will be involved in doing all lab tests. A similar study is being undertaken in Tanzania and Niger.

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Trachoma Elimination Project

This is a five year project funded by Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Fund (also called as The Trust Project in short). In this, BICO will be implementing S & A of the SAFE strategy in addition to conducting surveys such as; Trachoma Impact Survey, Surveillance Surveys and Drug Coverage Survey in all the 15 Trachoma endemic districts in Malawi. In particular, BICO is implementing Surgery (TT Surgeries) and Antibiotics in Chikwawa, Nsanje and Machinga and Antibiotics (Mass Drug Administration) only in Mchinji, Ntcheu, Mangochi and Dowa.

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