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New nurses save sight in Ethiopia

Campaigners are marking twenty years of success in saving the sight of millions of people in Ethiopia.

Over the past two decades, Orbis has supported local campaigners and the government in delivering improvements in eye care, which has saved the sight of millions of people.

Successes include the introduction of paediatric eye health and optometry services, training the first generation of disease specialists, introducing modern cataract surgical techniques and opening the first Eye Bank in Africa outside of South Africa.

A focus of the charity’s work in the country is tackling blinding trachoma – a bacterial eye infection that is the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world. It affects people living in poverty, especially those who live in crowded conditions, with shortages of water and inadequate sanitation.

Ethiopia carries the one of the world’s highest burdens of trachoma, but the Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Workers (IECWs) are helping to identify and treat infections, trachoma and refractive error, and refer patients to district hospitals.

One IECW, Abiyot who was trained two years ago, prevents avoidable blindness every day in Gamo Gofa. Working across two health centres, he performs up to 50 surgeries a month to treat the late stages of trachoma, and has made a significant impact on his community already.

His story can be viewed in this film:

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Image: Orbis

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.