Today I would like to share a story with you about Andole Adare, an Integrated eye-care worker (IECW) trained by Orbis, who works at an Orbis Partner Hospital in Southern Ethiopia. Andole shares his story on how things have changed due to COVID-19.
“I am an Integrated Eye Care Worker which means I provide eye health services at the Bonke Health Centre and at outreach sites. As an Integrated Eye Care Worker, I have been trained to conduct TT surgery, I have also received training in screening patients with refractive error, treating them with spectacles and providing prescriptions.”
When the COVID-19 outbreak first reported in Ethiopia most health facilities suspended all healthcare services to halt the spread of infection. This interruption of health services posed a threat to vulnerable populations at risk of trachoma and cataract infections.
In April 2020 the government of Ethiopia issued a State of Emergency to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country. This set several challenges for Orbis to continue their work. Due to strict guidelines it was difficult for Orbis to continue all planned activities. Orbis focused where the need was the greatest, on conducting emergency surgeries.
On a daily basis Andole conducts a trachomatous trichiasis (TT) surgery patient with all the required PPE to prevent COVID-19
As Andole explains “the pain from trachomatous trichiasis doesn’t leave in time, in fact it gets worse. The risk of permanent blindness does not decrease. People suffering need to get relief and cannot wait. Therefore, we continued treating patients at the health centre, but we did not go to outreach sites.”
The number of patients who came to the Health Centre has decreased since the outbreak which is understandable due to the restrictions on travel and gatherings. However, Andole is available to treat those at immediate risk of blindness. He follows the standardised and safe implementation measures that have been put in place while delivering the services, to ensure the infection is not spread.
Andole is also assisting with COVID-19 messaging. To date there have been no cases of COVID-19 in this region. But Andole recognises the risks if the transmission rate across Ethiopia continues to rise. “We would suffer a lot. Therefore, my job is to keep repeating the message of how COVID-19 is spread from person to person and how to prevent transmission, so everyone understands how to protect themselves.”
There is a strong crossover between eye health messages and COVID-19 messaging. Both advocate the importance of hand and face washing. Therefore, the training Andole received from Orbis on how to prevent and protect from infectious disease is so beneficial at this time to help prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
Thank you for supporting Orbis Ireland and enabling us to train eye-care workers like Andole.
It is your support that enables us to continue our sight saving work.