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.
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.

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
 
   

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