Orbis Ireland

Orbis' mission is to preserve and restore sight by strengthening the capacity of local partners in their efforts to prevent and treat blindness with the vision that this will lead to a world in which no one is needlessly blind, where quality eye care, education, and treatment are available to every human being.
Aug 17, 2012

Improve water supply, improve quality of life

Mulatu Gabre is a health officer who has worked with ORBIS in Konso, Ethiopia for more than 4 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in eye care programs, particularly in eradicating trachoma. He knows the area very well and is actively involved in water development activities.

The impact of working in water development is beyond trachoma control and is directly related to the quality of life of the community. Major childhood killer diseases are related with poor hygiene and sanitation and scarcity of water. Hence, working or contributing towards this activity not only reduces the prevalence of trachoma, but improves quality of life throughout a community. 

To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS is desperately trying to transform this region. ORBIS aims to eliminate trachoma from this region not only through conducting eye surgery to correct the disease and through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), but also by improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines.

In the fight against blinding trachoma, the roles of schools are found to be very significant. In linking schools with Health extension workers, community health agents, integrated eye care workers and identifying children with sight problems, teachers play a central role. Through teacher training and establishing eye care clubs in schools, it is possible to access communities to bring long term behavioral changes and greater impacts at community level. 

With your support we will continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.  

 

 

May 25, 2012

If you teach a man to fish...

ORBIS volunteer seeks to end blindness by building eye care capacity in Ethiopia

Irish ophthalmologist Donal Brosnahan, recently spent a week in Addis Ababa. What he left behind was even more valuable than the sight regained by the handful of children he personally treated. Thanks to his efforts, and those of ORBIS, Ethiopia now has two more ophthamologists trained in advanced paediatric surgical techniques.  

“The purpose was to teach skills”, says Brosnahan who practices in Dublin, Ireland. “We had two local ophthamologists, one with quite a bit of paediatric experience. The first day we screened 36 patients to find the best cases for teaching. I then spent 5 days instructing and assisting surgeries at Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa”.

During his time at the hospital, Brosnahan also helped educate operating room nurses and primary care physicians in techniques as well as instructing public health workers in screening and follow up skills for patients in remote villages and underserved urban areas.

“It was a full, 360-degree training effort, a comprehensive approach that recognises you have to have it all to make surgery possible. Anesthesia, nursing, equipment maintenance, and supplies as well as surgical skills. One element is not enough to make the whole thing work”.

The systematic approach of improving eye care that Dr Brosnahan experienced exemplifies the ORBIS philosophy.

Dr Brosnahan spends a week every year volunteering for ORBIS in Ethiopia. “It gives me an opportunity to give back”. It also deepens his appreciation for the high level of skill of his colleagues in Ireland. “You kind of take it for granted that expert anaesthesia and nursing and equipment maintenance will be there, but they aren’t everywhere”.

May 17, 2012

Maintaining water pumps

In Ethiopia, one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of trachoma is by encouraging face and hand washing - not easy where water is scarce. This will help to slow the spread of bacteria which causes infection and ultimately prevent people from contracting trachoma. ORBIS representatives have started to train teachers about facial cleanliness, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and how to wash hands effectively to prevent the spread of bacteria.

In order to train the local community, it is important that water is readily available. The biggest challenge in water development and provision is not the initial cost (which is very high), but the maintenance and follow –up of its function.

Within the Konso area in southern Ethiopia, almost 60% of the water-pumps were non functional. ORBIS implemented a strategy to repair the non-functional water schemes. This involves training community members on how to perform minor repairs on these pumps to ensure they are in working order.  A WASH committee was also set up to generate revenue for the repair. This strategy is focused on the repair of these non-functional schemes and handing over the responsibility to the communities, which is a very cost effective approach.

A single water scheme could serve a population of up to 100 households. If the scheme is located in a school it can serve more than 1000 students. The average cost of maintenance is about ETB10, 000 or approx €400.

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