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

The importance of improving sanitation

Trachoma is a major public health problem in many regions of southern Ethiopia. Scarcity of water, poor personal hygiene and environmental sanitation, overcrowding and lack of awareness on trachoma and eye care in general are commonplace in Konso. These conditions will inevitably give rise to trachoma infections.

Konso is located 90km from Arbaminch in southern Ethiopia and has a population of 257,000. The Konso community is a dense, overpopulated area where it is difficult to establish and maintain proper sanitation facilities. These poor sanitary conditions mean that bacteria spread quickly and trachoma infections are common. Open field defecation around the periphery of the villages was a common phenomenon in the area until recently. Health education through trained teachers, health extension workers and integrated eye care workers, combined with the construction of model communal latrines has reduced the open field defecation practice.

Ato Temesgen Kabeto is the manager of this project and he works in collaboration with the Konso health office to plan, implement and follow-up the construction of the latrine until it is ready for use by the local communities. He had been working in the area as health officer and has experience in the public health aspect of the project. Construction of communal latrines starting from site selection up to the completion of the construction will take 2 to 4 months.

The average number of households using the communal latrine is about 80 which is approximately 480 individuals.  The benefit that this improved sanitation has on the community in the long-term is significant. The active involvement of communities is central for the project to have a lasting impact. The construction of such latrines is to demonstrate to the local communities that the use of such facilities could reduce the disease transmission and maintain clean and healthy environment. Once communities understand the value and benefit of latrine use, they can then construct their own latrine from cheap local materials.

To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS are desperately trying to transform this region. ORBIS aims to eliminate trachoma from this region through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), educating locals on the importance of personal hygiene and improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines. The community is now aware of the many benefits of having such latrines and there have been requests for additional latrines. By improving the surrounding environment and sanitation, the incidence of trachoma will be reduced significantly. With your support we can continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.  

 

 

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”.

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