Our Fight to End Trachoma

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. 


Orbis Ireland focuses our efforts in Ethiopia, where the prevalence of avoidable blindness from diseases like trachoma is one of the highest in the world. 

Trachoma is highly contagious and spreads quickly in poverty-stricken communities. Symptoms range from uncomfortable itchy eyes to debilitating pain. Repeated infections can lead to permanent blindness if not treated in time.

Trachoma not only affects individuals but paralyses entire communities – adults are unable to work, children cannot learn, and families don't live freely. 

The comprehensive eye care project supported by Orbis Ireland works with people across eye health systems – from medical professionals in regional hospitals to staff in rural health centres and members of local communities – to provide quality eye care to people in need.

Orbis works closely with governments to influence the way eye health is administered at local and national levels. 

To fight trachoma in Ethiopia, Orbis implement the World Health Organisation's SAFE Strategy. 

SAFE Strategy

Pie Chart
  • Surgery

  • Antibiotics

  • Face Washing

  • Environmental Change

For every dose of antibiotics we give out, for every surgery we conduct or 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.


Over the past two decades, Orbis has made huge strides in the fight to end trachoma. Through the implementation of the SAFE strategy, we have rid whole districts of this devastating disease. 

But in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to derail all this progress. 

Despite the challenges we faced, it was critical to maintain the momentum we gained over the past 20 years. An extended break in our efforts would allow the disease to regain a foothold in the communities where we had worked so hard to eliminate it.

In 2020, we had to rethink rapidly how we delivered across all touchpoints. But, despite the challenges presented by coronavirus, we still screened, treated and performed surgeries across the region of 3.4 million people in Ethiopia. 

Thanks to the incredible support of our donors, Orbis continued to fight trachoma in Ethiopia.