A team from LSTM’s Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD), along with their in-country partners in Tanzania, hosted a visit of Everton FC club ambassadors and former players Leon Osman and Graham Stewart. They met with beneficiaries of the morbidity management programme ahead of Everton’s friendly match against Gor Mahia FC.
The Everton FC representatives met patients from Pugu hospital, one of three facilities in the area which has been carrying out life-changing operations to those suffering from hydrocele, a swelling of the scrotum caused by lymphatic filariasis (LF).
LF is a neglected tropical disease (NTD), where a person is infected with a parasitic worm as the result of a bite from an infected mosquito. Hydrocele, along with the swelling of limbs, known as elephantiasis, are thought to affect an estimated 36 million people worldwide and can often lead to social stigma, loss of income-earning opportunities and medical expenses which impact on the patient and their family.
Hydrocele patients often have difficulty performing routine tasks and taking part in everyday activities, such as wearing trousers and playing football. It can be cured through a simple surgery, costing only around £40, with patients able to return home from hospital after one or two days, with the vast majority reporting improvements in their quality of life. The surgery also impacts wider families, with patients able to return to work and take part in routine activities that were previously impeded by their condition and the associated pain and stigma.
Dr Hayley Mableson is programme lead in Tanzania where CNTD has, through funding from UKAid, supported more than 1,000 surgeries in the last six months. She said: “This visit from such famous Everton legends has provided real inspiration to some of our recovering patients. They were able to talk to them about their experiences and it was especially poignant for those who feel that the surgery has allowed them to get involved in football again, something previously impossible given their condition.” Patients shared their experiences with the Everton representatives, including the impact on their relationships and quality of life. They were excited that while their hydrocoele had prevented them from exercising, they were now able to play football again.
The Dar es Salaam region of Tanzania has a population of five million. CNTD has supported the implementation of mass drug administration (MDA) since 2012 as well as the management of patients suffering from the condition. Scale-up of activities has led to the identification of over 4,500 hydrocele patients and CNTD aims to support a further 2,000 surgeries over the next two years. “This very simple surgery clearly changes lives”, said Dr Mableson. “And we are delighted that Everton have come along to see the impact that our intervention and the work of our partners has had. The surgery changes lives and only cost around £40 per person, we hope that this visit helps to raise awareness of the condition and encourages as many people as possible to support our work”, she continued.
Everton FC TV commentator Darren Griffiths thanked the patients for sharing their experience and said of the meeting: “It has been humbling for us to meet with you and hear about your conditions. I am proud that the city of Liverpool is supporting such important work”
CNTD have set up a JustGiving page for anyone who would like to donate towards hydrocele surgeries in Tanzania or other programme countries, please visit the JustGiving page for more information.https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/lstm/fpsu