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.
May 27, 2016

Water plays a huge role in preventing disease

Washing hands at the local clean water source
Washing hands at the local clean water source

Orbis recognises the importance of educating communities in Ethiopia about water related issues. With that in mind we, at Orbis, would like to take this chance to tell you a little bit about Trachoma, a devastating eye disease which ultimately blinds it victims. This disease can be controlled by providing clean water to these communities and eductaing them on the importance of personal hygiene. 

What is Trachoma?

Trachoma is an eye infection which can result in blindness. It is a leading cause of preventable blindness in the world and happens in areas where people live with limited access to clean water and health care.

The infection normally occurs in childhood but people tend not to become blind until adulthood. The disease progresses over years, eventually causing scarring on the inside of the eyelid with the eyelashes eventually turning inward. This rubbing of the eyelashes on the cornea leads to severe vision loss and eventually blindness.

It is estimated that six million people worldwide are blind due to trachoma and more than 150 million people are in need of treatment *

Whats water got to do with any of this?

 Water plays a huge role in preventing the disease;

Increased water availability means that faces can be cleaned more thoroughly. It also means that, for example, fingers and bedclothes, carriers of the organism between one person and another, can be kept cleaner, decreasing the spread of the disease.

Overall, easily accessible water supply help people to maintain a cleaner domestic environment thereby making the area less attractive to the flies which spread the disease.

What is Orbis doing to help this situation?

We work to ensure that communities in Ethiopia have access to clean water sources; We also help to educate people on how best to avoid this preventable disease and overall we strive toward the complete eradication of Trachoma altogether.

*The World Health Organization (WHO)

Collecting clean water for cooking and cleaning
Collecting clean water for cooking and cleaning
May 23, 2016

Teachers encourage behavioral change

Teachers screen students at school in Ethiopia
Teachers screen students at school in Ethiopia

Behavioural change is the foundation of eliminating avoidable eye diseases, such as trachoma, in Ethiopia. Encouraging behavioural change drives a higher proportion of clean faces, an uptake of surgical services and increase latrine utilization in order to limit transmission risk.

A highly effective tool in encouraging change is training communities in the importance of personal hygiene and using latrines rather than defecating outside. Community health workers, local public leaders and teachers play a crucial role in educating communities. 

Zerihun works in a large school in Bonke in rural south Ethiopia. He was recently trained by Orbis in basic eye care and the ways to prevent trachoma. He also screens the students for eye diseases, such as trachoma.

Training teachers is a critical part of Orbis’ work in rural Ethiopia to educate children about eye health and prevent trachoma.

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee/Orbis

May 4, 2016

Global Partners Donate 500m Doses of Antibiotic

Tigist is measured for dosage
Tigist is measured for dosage

Orbis recently joined with the International Trachoma Initiative, Pfizer, International Coalition for Trachoma Control and a number of other not for profit organisations to celebrate Pfizer’s donation of the 500 millionth dose of Zithromax, an antibiotic used to treat trachoma.

The milestone marks significant achievement in global efforts to help eliminate this infectious and preventable eye disease that can lead to permanent blindness as a public health threat by the year 2020.

Delegations from across the world gathered in the Waliso region of Ethiopia to celebrate the donation of the 500 millionth Zithromax dose. 

“This milestone highlights what is possible when partners work together toward a common goal and signifies remarkable achievement in our fight to eliminate trachoma globally,” said Virginia Sarah, chair, International Coalition for Trachoma Control, an alliance of organizations committed to supporting national program efforts in more than 30 countries to eliminate trachoma using the SAFE strategy, an approach that includes antibiotic treatment. “Our collective efforts are helping to reduce the impacts of this ancient, preventable disease on affected individuals, families and communities.”

The burden of trachoma remains highest in Ethiopia, with 75 million people at risk, and the Federal Ministry of Health is working with Alliance partners to significantly expand the number of people in Ethiopia who are treated.

“The expansion of the SAFE strategy across Ethiopia is vital in alleviating the sufferings of millions of our people and ultimately eradicating trachoma from our soil,” said His Excellency Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. “The burden of trachoma is too high, but with the implementation of SAFE strategies, including Pfizer’s donation of Zithromax, and efficient partnership with international partners, we are determined to achieve this goal.”

Trachoma is an infectious disease, which can develop into a condition in which eyelids turn inwards and eyelashes scrape the eyeball, causing great pain, corneal ulcers and irreversible blindness. There are 232 million people in 58 countries at risk, with more than 80 percent of the global burden of the disease concentrated in 14 countries, mostly in Africa. Trachoma is responsible for the visual impairment of approximately 2.2 million people, 1.2 million of whom are irreversibly blind. It threatens entire socio-economic infrastructures and as a result, is estimated to cause USD $3-6 billion in lost productivity per year across affected countries.

Rebecca Cronin (CEO, Orbis UK) commented: “The magnitude of this incredible milestone highlights the amazing power of partnerships and just what can be achieved when organizations work together towards a common goal. By recognizing each other’s strengths we have created an effective strategy to tackle trachoma. It’s hard to calculate the total impact of this work; hundreds of millions of lives have been positively affected by the distribution of Zithromax. This action has empowered people to generate an income, build up economies through enabling a workforce to be free of this devastating condition and has helped children to gain an education. But we can do more, and we will continue to do so until this condition is stamped out across the world.”

Dr.Kebede Worku hands out Zithromax dose
Dr.Kebede Worku hands out Zithromax dose
Students perform Trachoma song
Students perform Trachoma song
 
   

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