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.
Feb 19, 2016

Women's Group leaders understand Trachoma

During a recent visit to Ethiopia Orbis chatted to a young women who is the leader of the local Women's Group in Dokotu in southern Ethiopia. These Womens groups are set up to mobilise the community in their understanding of preventable diseases, such as trachoma.   

Asnaqech explained “I have seen trachoma in my community for many years. Now we know how to stop it – better sanitation, face washing, and operations if it is needed.

“I see how it works – the eye is itchy, then red, the tears come and then pain and then they lose their sight.

“At first only a few went for the operation, then more went. And now, thanks to prevention very few need the surgery anymore.

“We are happy to be cleaner but some people still need more talking around. There is more to do but already there are fewer flies. We all understand the need and working to reach the goal of beating trachoma.

“Water is the great problem here. After working in the farms our faces are dirty, by the time we get home the water left over is not enough to wash properly. We also need more segregated latrines so everyone take ownership for their maintenance.

“The other women and I are agents, here for the people to fight trachoma. We have learned much from Orbis and the health workers.

“We do not count how many surgeries we make happen. But everyone that needs one gets one.  

“We face some challenges, but educating our community is important to us. We also struggled to overcome the gender bias. The support from men is vital, without it we cannot do our work, but I feel we have it now. 

“I don’t know if trachoma will be beaten but all my life I will try. We have a strong group of women".

Feb 3, 2016

An entire family is helped by a simple antibiotic

Orbis' goal is to reduce avoidable blindness due to trachoma - is a major public health problem in Ethiopia. Zithromax is the Pfizer-donated antibiotic used to protect against trachoma-an infectious disease that has blinded millions across Africa.Orbis is currently organising the mass distribution of the antibiotic across a region of two million people in southern Ethiopia. Orbis representatives distribute the antibiotic annually to the entire population. 

Adanech recently travelled, with two of her daughters, to a nearby village to receive their annual dose of the antibiotic, Zithromax. Ten years ago Adanech had suffered from trachoma and she developed the blinding form of the disease - trichasis - after repeated infection without treatment. At that time, she walked five hours to the nearest healthcare clinic where an Orbis-trained nurse conducted sight saving surgery.  

Adanech trusts Orbis and so when she heard about the Zithromax distribution from Health Extension Workers who visited her village, she wanted to make sure that her daughters received the medication and would not suffer from trachoma like she had. 

Adanech said: "In our community sight is very important because we need to go to fetch water, we need to go to buy something from the market, we need to go collect fire wood and the like and we use our eyes. If we have sight problems it is difficult to do all of these activities and we’re not going to be able to contribute. In the past I have seen people in our community that have had trachoma end up begging on the side of the road because they are unable to work. This medicine is going to help us be relieved from all these problems and that’s why I’m here".

Dec 2, 2015

Sight restoring Surgery in Dita, Ethiopia

Zerfinesh(26) and Muller(14 months)
Zerfinesh(26) and Muller(14 months)

On the 24th November I visited an Orbis funded eye clinic in Dita, Southern Ethiopia. During my visit I witnessed a surgery to reverse the causes of trachoma. I was amazed to witness this simple surgery, which costs just €6, which can quite literally change someone's life. The whole procedure took 20 minutes and the patient was on her feet and smiling immediately afterwards. 

While I was waiting to see the surgery, I met a 26 year old woman and her 14 month old son at the clinic. Zerefinesh told me she was worried about Muller's eye and heard that Orbis might be able to help. She had walked for two hours in the hot sun with Muller on her back, to reach the clinic. 

Zerefinesh explained how Muller's eye had been scratched by a rough leaf during a traditional baptismal ceremony. She was concerned that he might be blind in that eye as a result. An Orbis trained Health Care Worker examined Muller's eye and reassured Zerefinesh that he might need minor surgery when he is older but for now his sight should not be affected. 

This experience made me think about the broad changes that Orbis Ireland has made in this area. It shows the trust that exists within this community that Zerefinesh would know to go to Orbis for medical advice. By encouraging people to care about their eye-health, children like Muller will have more hope of leading a happy and healthy life. Eye health is being taken seriously by young mothers and families and is recognised as a priority. This has not always been the case. 

In order to successfully eliminate trachoma in these areas, this growing trust in Orbis' medical expertise and surgeries needs to continue. Your donations are making sure that whole communities receive the surgeries and medical advice they need. Thank you for your generous and continued support of our work. 

Sight restoring Surgery
Sight restoring Surgery
 
   

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