Thursday, July 23, 2009

Saramogo's fiction was becoming reality... Mankien during the South Sudan civil war

... Our study estimated the prevalence of blindness in Mankien at 4%, which Kuper and Gilbert describe as being “beyond the range” of the studies reviewed by Pascolini et al. The review did not include any studies from the ten states that compose southern Sudan. The nearest surveys reported were conducted in 1998 in Al-Ginena province of Southern Darfur—which is within the 16 northern states of Sudan governed from Khartoum, and was not directly affected by the war in the south. The Al-Ginena studies show a blindness prevalence of 3.2% in all ages. Yet despite the geographical proximity, two decades of civil war in the south were accompanied by the absence of a health infrastructure, and no preventive health services to speak of, which makes southern Sudan unique. Comparisons with other parts of Sudan or with other countries are probably not justified or meaningful.

Our survey was conducted in Mankien, which was anecdotally known to be endemic for severe blinding trachoma, and this was subsequently confirmed by our trachoma survey, which showed an overall prevalence of trichiasis and bilateral corneal opacity of 9.6% and 3.1%, respectively. The prevalence of blinding cataract in Mankien was consistent with expectation, and would presumably have been higher had there been a systematic over-sampling of the blind. It is the prevalence of blinding trachoma that sets the population apart from all others reported and reviewed by Pascolini et al. These survey data from Mankien are extremely valuable in that they demonstrate the way uncontrolled trachoma can ravage inaccessible and underserved communities who have, quite literally, been off the map until recently. The war affected the whole of southern Sudan, and extremely high levels of active trachoma and trichiasis have been observed in all the areas that we have managed to survey in recent years.. Although not generalizable to the ten southern states, these data from Mankien are probably indicative of the overall situation in southern Sudan.
The context is a very interesting discussion of survey sampling biases... Great for the field worker to think about.

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