Eye Care in Ethiopia

Comprehensive eye care is about working with people throughout eye health systems – government officials, medical professionals in regional hospitals, staff in rural health centres and members of local communities – to provide eye care for people who need it, wherever they are.
Making eye care available to people in urgent need remained challenging in 2021. Ongoing pandemic restrictions made reaching people hard. But through the determination of our partners and by adapting to a fast-changing situation, we achieved some remarkable results.
Orbis Ireland focuses our effort on Ethiopia, where the prevalence of avoidable blindness from diseases like trachoma is one of the highest in the world. 
Our work in Ethiopia spans more than 20 years. In that time, along with other NGOs and the Government of Ethiopia, we've taken significant steps towards eliminating avoidable blindness.
We are committed to eliminating trachoma as a public health problem in Ethiopia. Trachoma is a highly infectious condition that can devastate people, families and communities. If left untreated, repeated trachoma infections can develop into trachoma trichiasis, where the eyelid turns inwards, scraping painfully against the cornea. Ultimately, it can lead to irreversible blindness.
To fight Trachoma in Ethiopia, Orbis implement the World Health Organisation's SAFE Strategy. 

SAFE Strategy

Pie Chart
  • Surgery

  • Antibiotics

  • Face washing

  • Environmental change

Our Impact

Over the past two decades, Orbis has made considerable strides in fighting to end trachoma. By implementing the SAFE strategy, we have rid whole districts of this devastating disease.
In 2021, Orbis and its partners took significant steps toward eliminating trachoma as a public health problem. Orbis Ireland funded the distribution of over 2 million doses of antibiotics to treat trachoma infection in Ethiopia. And the team ensured every dose was administered in a Covid secure way.
Trachoma remains the second major cause of blindness and the third major cause of low vision in Ethiopia. But trachoma impact surveys show the difference Orbis is making. Almost all of the 45 woredas (districts) in which Orbis Ireland funds now show reduced infection levels. With six districts no longer requiring mass drug administration.
Based on data from districts where there is a baseline and impact survey conducted, the reduction in the prevalence of Trachoma infection ranged from as high as 55.3% at baseline (2006) to as low as 1.37% at impact survey in 2021. 

Orbis in Schools

Many schoolchildren report struggling to see the blackboard or read their books, and some withdraw from school altogether. Education is often the only way out of poverty for children in disadvantaged communities. 
Face Washing and Environmental Change are crucial to achieving and sustaining trachoma elimination targets. Orbis partners with the government to implement Behaviour Change Communications campaigns to establish good personal eye health practices and increase demand for eye care services.
In 2021, the project strengthened the school-based trachoma prevention programme by implementing Behavioural Change Communication activities in 100 primary schools across five districts.
For every dose of antibiotics we give out, for every surgery we conduct or for every person we educate on personal hygiene, is a person no longer at risk of pain, discomfort or blindness. They are no longer at risk of infecting their loved ones. They no longer need a family member to stay at home to care for them. It transforms lives.
2021 has been another challenging year. But, thanks to our experience in infection control and technology, and the extraordinary efforts of our staff, volunteers and donors, we've been able to continue saving sight and transforming lives.
Thanks to the incredible support of our donors, Orbis continues to fight avoidable blindness.