ORBIS TEAM MAKING GREAT STRIDES PROTECTING FAMILIES FROM TRACHOMA

Since early December, the Orbis team has been on the ground in southern Ethiopia responding to the trachoma crisis. Read on for the latest news — the challenges and successes happening right now. And learn how you can help End Trachoma Now.

SCROLL THROUGH EVENTS IN ETHIOPIA

ORBIS TEAM TREATS MILLIONS OF FAMILIES IN SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA

Families in Ethiopia are receiving antibiotic treatment to prevent the spread of trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. Thanks to the support of partners and donors, Orbis has virtually eliminated trachoma in 24 districts of Ethiopia — but there's more work to be done. And that's why our teams are there right now, working to end this painful and contagious disease.

ON TRACK TO MEET OUR AMBITIOUS GOAL

The Orbis team set a goal to treat 19 million people in 150 districts in the southern regions of Ethiopia. As of today, we are on track to achieve this ambitious goal. The antibiotic we are distributing is Zithromax, a well-known and safe medicine produced by Pfizer. Pfizer kindly donates all the Zithromax the Orbis team needs to end trachoma.

OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19

The mass drug administration (MDA) hasn't been without challenges. Typically, we carry out one part of the MDA in June and the other in November. But the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant delays. In fact, the project was almost cancelled entirely. But because of the importance of eliminating trachoma, the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia specially approved the MDA. We began the distribution of the antibiotic in early December, and the project is going strong today.

DELIVERING MEDICINE IN A COVID-SAFE MANNER

To move ahead with the MDA during COVID-19, we needed to modify our procedures. All teams receive training on how to deliver the medicine in a COVID-safe manner. Also, each outreach worker is given personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep COVID-19 at bay. The amount of PPE needed to treat millions of people is significant. We've launched a campaign to help pay for this expense. Please donate now to help keep everyone safe during this critical project.

FOCUSING ON FAMILIES THAT NEED HELP THE MOST

Before entering a district, we complete an impact survey of the population. The survey's results give us an idea of the prevalence of trachoma in the area. If the levels are low, then we do not need to distribute the medicine there. We expect more than 30 districts will not need the medication due to the great progress made in recent years to end trachoma.

DELIVERING TREATMENT TO FAMILIES' HOMES

The outreach team goes door-to-door, ensuring everyone is aware of the treatment. The team sets up their equipment in the "compound" area, where an extended family lives. An outreach worker will use a dosing pole to measure the height of the person they're treating. Based on their height, they will be given the exact amount of medication they need.

HELPING PEOPLE WHO SHOW SIGNS OF TRACHOMA TRICHIASIS

During the MDA, anyone who shows active signs of trachoma trichiasis gets referred for surgery at a clinic. If left untreated, the condition can lead to irreversible blindness. Since the project started in December, we have performed 5,449 trichiasis surgeries, freeing people from pain and protecting their sight.