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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 20(1)

Trachoma elimination in remote Indigenous Northern Territory communities: baseline health-promotion study

Fiona D. Lange A D , Emma Baunach B , Rosemary McKenzie C and Hugh R. Taylor A

A Indigenous Eye Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, 5/207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.
B Healthy Skin and Eyes Program, Katherine West Health Board, Unit 10, Riverbank Office Village, Corner O’Shea Terrace and First Street, Katherine, NT 0851, Australia.
C Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, The University of Melbourne, 5/207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: flange@unimelb.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 20(1) 34-40 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY12044
Submitted: 16 April 2012  Accepted: 9 September 2012   Published: 8 October 2012

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Identify trachoma knowledge, attitudes and practice of staff in clinics, schools and community workplace settings to optimise trachoma-elimination health-promotion programs in the Katherine West Health Board region of the Northern Territory. Prior to the introduction of a suite of health promotion resources the Indigenous Eye Health Unit and Katherine West Health Board conducted a baseline survey of open, multi-choice and closed questions regarding knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to trachoma with 72 staff members over a 6-month period in 2010-11. Data were analysed for differences between settings. Two significant barriers and one enabling factor were identified. One in five staff members in clinics and 29% of staff members in schools were unaware they lived and worked in a trachoma-endemic area. One-third of school staff and 38% of clinic staff considered it normal for children to have dirty faces. However, the majority of participants felt comfortable talking about hygiene issues with others. The presence of dirty faces in young Indigenous children underpins the continuing prevalence of trachoma. Increasing the awareness of the health effects of children’s nasal and ocular secretions and changing community acceptance of dirty faces as the norm will reduce the risk of trachoma and other childhood infections. Staff in clinics, schools and community work settings can play a role in trachoma elimination by actively encouraging clean faces whenever they are dirty and by including face washing in holistic hygiene and health education. Staff in schools may need additional support. Trachoma-elimination health promotion should increase awareness of trachoma prevalence and encourage all who work and live in remote Indigenous communities to take action to promote facial cleanliness and good hygiene practices.

Additional keywords: facial cleanliness, hygiene.


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