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 2, 2016

Trachoma Elimination is So Cost Effective

A child receives their annual dose of antibiotics
A child receives their annual dose of antibiotics

There are more than 75 million people living in trachoma-endemic areas in Ethiopia, the largest number of any country in the world. 

The last few years, however, have seen enormous changes in the way Ethiopia is responding to the trachoma challenge. The country is viewed as an inspirational example of what can be achieved with strong country leadership and coordinated partner support, like from Orbis, in order to eliminate trachoma.

The disease has a devastating impact on livelihoods limiting access to education and preventing men, women, and children from being able to work and lead fulfilled lives. By leveraging the millions of dollars in donated antibiotics (from Pfizer) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector investments, quality of life for those living in endemic countries can be significantly improved.

Trachoma elimination is a simple and cheap proposition with huge returns on investment. Preserving the sight of an individual with trachoma requires a straightforward operation on the eyelid, and can be done in the local health centre; programme activities including antibiotic distribution, education, water and sanitation have positive impact far beyond ‘trachoma-specific’ end goals. Some have called trachoma elimination a ‘best buy’ in development.

The elimination of trachoma as a public health problem is affordable, cost-effective, and pro-poor.

Thank you for your support! 

Jun 14, 2016

The effects of Trachoma on Children

Almenesh was slowly and painfully going blind
Almenesh was slowly and painfully going blind

It is unusual to see the blinding form of trahoma in children younger than 15. In areas where trachoma is hyper endemic and recurrence of the infection is very high, young children with blinding trachoma is all too common. Dita woreda, in southern Ethiopia, is one such area. In the worst affected areas up to 70% of children have trachoma, a figure I struggle to imagine.

Alemnesh is an 11 year old girl who lives in Lisha village of the Dita region, with her family of seven. In the past year, Alemnesh has been suffering from tearing, aversion to light, and pain which forced her to lose focus on her education.

No one in the family knew that Alemnesh was suffering from trachoma. Without any knowledge or understanding Alemnesh's condition went untreated and ultimately her sight deteriorated further as more of her eye lashes turned inwards, scratching on her cornea and causing excruciating pain.

One day, Alemnesh went to visit her grandmother. While she was there, Zenebech, the local health extension worker dropped in for a routine visit. She noticed straight away that Alemnesh had a problem with her eyes. 

Zenebech, who has been trained in primary eye care evaluations by Orbis, examined Alemnesh and noticed straight away that she had blinding trachoma. Zenebech advised that the disease could be treated quickly and easily. Zenebech contacted the local eye care worker, from the local health centre and made an appointment for an operation. 

Shortly after, Alemnesh and her grandmother went to the health centre to receive treatment. The eye care worker, Tsehay, examined Alemnesh and conducted lid surgery - free of charge - thanks to Orbis!

A week later and Alemnesh returned to the health centre for a post op checkup. This was a very special day for Alemnesh - she felt no pain and her vision was clear.

She said “I never thought that lid surgery would be a simple procedure to go through when I was told what the treatment for my eye condition was…My wish now is to attend school with comfort and to work hard. Opportunity always helps people like me”

Millions of people are still suffering needlessly in Ethiopia, where treatment is scarcely available, and sufferers are forced to take desperate measures, often pulling out their eyelashes to stop them scratching their eyes.

Orbis is working to change this and thanks to your support we are completely transforming these regions of Ethiopia

May 27, 2016

Why a focus on girls?

Women queue to receive antibiotics
Women queue to receive antibiotics

Globally, trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness. Survey data consistently show that trachoma-related blindness is two to four times higher in women than men. 

Orbis aims to eliminate trachoma as a blinding disease in rural areas of Ethiopia, where the prevalence of the disease is the highest in the world.

Orbis has adopted a four-part strategy, referred to as the SAFE strategy, which includes surgery to correct trichiasis, antimicrobial agents to treat active trachoma, and face washing and environmental changes to prevent transmission. Although adopting the SAFE strategy is not explicitly gender-sensitive, it is necessary for Orbis to be aware of the focus towards women for many reasons...  

  • Childcare is primarily the concern of women. As such the women are more likely to attend community outreach centres to receive the antibiotic to treat trachoma. As the main caregiver, the women are more likely to bring their children.
  • It is also suggested that women are influenced to a greater extent than those of men by their children's illness. 
  • There is a strong association between the presence of active trachoma and the absence of good sanitary conditions (primarily the absence of latrines and the high concentration of flies). The fact that women and girls are primarily responsible for water collection, face washing, and cleaning (if done) of latrines suggests that introducing improved infrastructures will have the greatest effect on women, both in terms of eliminating trachoma and improving quality of life. 

Trachoma remains a major problem, particularly among girls and women in much of sub-Saharan Africa. In order to tackle trachoma, it is important to focus on gender-sensitive intervention.

 
   

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