Distributing Antibiotics to Prevent Blindness

Feb 7, 2011

Antibiotics distribution result in healthy eyes

A young child with early signs of trachoma
A young child with early signs of trachoma

I recently made an annual trip to Ethiopia to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run to raise money for ORBIS. As part of the trip I travelled to Gamo Gofa, Derashe and Konso (GGDK) to witness firsthand the amazing sight saving work of ORBIS.

Trachoma is a constant threat to the sight of Ethiopians. The disease is spread by flies, clothing and close human contact – particularly between mother and child- and festers in dry areas where people have limited access to water. Many Ethiopians consider trachoma as an unavoidable fact of life.

ORBIS is working to change this and through the implementation of the *SAFE strategy throughout the region, ORBIS aims to eliminate the blinding eye disease – trachoma. This strategy includes the distribution of antibiotics which treats the trachoma infection.

During our visit we were fortunate to visit a community where the annual distribution of the antibiotic, *zithromax was being conducted.

We met a young girl of 18 months who, on examination, had trachoma. Children under six months are not able to take the antibiotic and therefore she had been too young to receive the antibiotic the previous year.

Trachoma had developed and therefore she had endured extreme pain and discomfort for up to a year. Without treatment, this disease progressively gets worse leading to the blinding complication of trachoma in which the eyelids turn inward and eyelashes rake across the eye’s surface.

Thankfully, she was on her way to receive her first dose of Zithromax. Her pain will be relieved and her vision preserved thanks to ORBIS.

This project seemed almost insurmountable a few years ago but now, for the first time and thanks to continuous generosity, it looks like we could just reach our goal of eradicating trachoma in this region


*The SAFE strategy designed to prevent and control trachoma, stands for Surgery, Antibiotics, Face washing and Environmental change.

*Zithromax is kindly donated by Pfizer


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Orbis Ireland

Sandyford, Dublin, Ireland

Project Leader

Diane Weatherup

Development Manager
Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland

Where is this project located?

Map of Distributing Antibiotics to Prevent Blindness