In developing countries children who are blind or visually impaired struggle in school, are unable to join the workforce, are therefore unable to reach their full potential or contribute to their family income and are seen as a burden on families and society. The fact is that up to half of children in developing countries who become blind will die within a year.
Ethiopia has one of the highest blindness prevalence rates in the world, around twice that of other developing countries, with 1.2 million blind people out of a population of 82 million. Over 80% of the population live in rural areas and there are currently only 35 ophthalmologists working outside of Addis Ababa to care for approximately 70 million people. This works out at around one ophthalmologist for every two million people in rural areas.
ORBIS, an international charity dedicated to the treatment and prevention of blindness in the developing world, is working to change this and since it was founded in 1982 it has, through the generosity of its donors, worked tirelessly to achieve its goal. Our focus is on teaching and training and since 1982 ORBIS has carried out more than 1,000 sight-saving programs and treated more than 10 million people worldwide.
This has been achieved through the teaching of sight-saving skills to eye care professionals in local hospitals and clinics and aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. These professionals, in turn, have passed on their expertise to tens of thousands of others. ORBIS also works with communities, governments and hospitals to improve healthcare, facilities and foster awareness of eye health.
ORBIS Ireland was established in 2005 and is currently focused on one major project; to eliminate a highly prevalent and life destroying, blinding disease - trachoma - in some of the poorest regions of southern Ethiopia.
Trachoma is a highly infectious eye disease that has been wiped out in the western world, but in countries like Ethiopia it continues to bring misery, pain, blindness and poverty. Yet this disease is both easy to treat and prevent. With effective treatment someone's suffering could be over in a matter of days. Their sight could be saved and their life transformed.
ORBIS Ireland has adopted the World Health Organisation's SAFE Strategy which involves conducting corrective Surgery, to reverse the effects of trachoma; distributing Antibiotics to treat the initial blinding infection; raising awareness of Facial cleanliness to prevent the bacteria which causes infection; and improving the surrounding Environment through improving access to clean water and sanitation.
Crucial to this project is our partnership with Pfizer, which has donated to ORBIS the antibiotic - Zithromax - a key drug in fighting trachoma.
The successful eradication of trachoma will transform this region socially and economically. The current generation of children will be the first to grow up without being blighted by trachoma blindness. More children will be able to attend school instead of caring for blind relatives, which will help free families from a cycle of poverty and provide a firm foundation for economic progress.
You can HELP
Please give generously so that others may see. With your support ORBIS can eliminate trachoma in southern Ethiopia