#EndTrachomaNow: Yishamu Helps Prevent Trachoma in Her Community

Yishamu is an experienced Health Extension Worker who has been working hard to help prevent the spread of blinding trachoma in her community for more than a decade.

Ten years ago, Yishamu became one of the first Health Extension Workers trained through the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. As a Health Extension Worker, Yishamu works to improve the health and well-being of families, particularly women and children, throughout the Konso Zone. She conducts routine examinations and check-ups, and provides vital health education, including the importance of good hygiene practices.

Orbis-trained Health Extension Worker, Yishamu, measures out a dose of trachoma-fighting antibiotics.


Health Extension Worker, Konso Zone

We vis­it each and every mem­ber of our com­mu­ni­ty as assigned to teach them about var­i­ous health issues, includ­ing eye health care. We most­ly focus on pre­ven­tion. We have also had var­i­ous addi­tion­al train­ings orga­nized by Orbis on per­son­al hygiene, tra­choma iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and patient referral.”

As a Health Extension Worker, Yishamu plays a critical role in preventing the spread of blinding trachoma in her community.

"My team and I have been trained and tested. We are qualified to handle this mass drug administration (MDA) this year,” explains Yishamu.

“I have been part of Zithromax distribution campaigns for the past five years. However, the last two rounds of MDA have been different due to the pandemic. For this, going home-to-home carrying our population registration books – as well as Zithromax drugs which is enough for the day – has been challenging as it is time-consuming."

Yishamu and her team of Health Extension Workers and community volunteers visit each and every home in their assigned community to distribute trachoma fighting antibiotics, examine people for signs of active trachoma infection or trichiasis, and deliver critical health information and education on how to limit the spread of the disease.

"Even though we are here to distribute the drug, we also use this opportunity to assess the eye health of our community,” says Yishamu. “When we come across someone who has trachoma, we immediately send them to the nearest health centre for better eye health service. We are also teaching our community how to protect themselves from COVID-19. We have enough PPE for our team thanks to Orbis. Before continuing to the next household, we always stop to clean our materials, as well as our hands. We do this consistently to avoid the spread of the virus infection."

Our most recent MDA campaign in Ethiopia has been particularly challenging due to the pandemic.

We are incredibly fortunate to have selfless and compassionate people like Yishamu who have dedicated their lives to freeing their communities from the burden of blinding trachoma. On behalf of Orbis and the tens of thousands of people who have been saved from a lifetime of blindness, we say thank you!

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