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Return Visit Confirms Family's Continued Vigilance Against Trachoma

After five years, little girl still benefits from trachoma program

Paul Emerson entered the modest hut unannounced, knowing what he was hoping to find, but ready for anything.

Emerson - director of the Carter Center's Trachoma Control Program - had visited this family before. In 2005, he had accompanied President and Mrs. Carter to Mosebo village, northwest Ethiopia, to help launch a comprehensive trachoma initiative in the region. A 3-year-old girl had charmed the Carters when she showed them her very own latrine, which would help keep the flies that transmit trachoma from breeding.

Now Emerson was back to find out how the little girl and her family were faring against the blinding disease.

"I didn't know what I'd find," Emerson said. "The family didn't know I was coming, which was by design. I wanted to get a true-to-life picture of how our program was working."

The family greeted Emerson warmly, and he was reintroduced to Haymanot Shibabow, the charming little girl who was now 8. Emerson received his answers straightaway. The family was still using their latrine. Haymanot's father had rebuilt it twice, and Haymanot still preferred to use her own, which was behind the home, covered with a plastic basin.

Haymanot's family and friends had received three annual doses of the antibiotic Zithromax, which helps prevent the disease. Neighbors had received free surgery to repair eyelid damage from the advanced stages of trachoma. Haymanot learns about the disease at school, and more than half of the households in Mosebo have their own latrines.

"I was pleased with what I found," Emerson said. "This program is helping Haymanot and her family live healthier lives."

Carter Center Photos
(Click to enlarge)

Haymanot Shibabow

(Click to enlarge)

In Ethiopia, Dr. Paul Emerson (right) is reintroduced to Haymanot Shibabow (center) and her mother during a five-year follow-up visit.

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