An Ethiopian family stands outside their home, holding a young child

Orbis in Ethiopia: 20 years of fighting avoidable blindness

October 2018

Last night Orbis UK marked 20 years of fighting blindness in Ethiopia with an event in London to thank the supporters, volunteers and partners who’ve made our work in the country possible.

With speeches from Dr Alemayehu Sisay, Orbis Ethiopia Country Director, Brian Little, one of Orbis’s expert medical volunteers, and Peter Hickson, Orbis UK Chairman, the event presented an opportunity to celebrate milestones achieved, as well as look towards the future of eye care in Ethiopia.

At Orbis, we believe that no-one should be blind due to lack of quality eye care. Since 1998, Orbis has been fighting avoidable blindness in Ethiopia, where nearly nine out of 10 cases of blindness are from preventable or treatable causes.

What makes Orbis unique? Our approach is comprehensive. In twenty years we have grown in our programmes, and in our impact in Ethiopia. Your support is transforming the lives of many.

Dr Alemayehu Sisay, Orbis Ethiopia Country Director

Orbis’s office in Addis Ababa was our first programme country office. It now oversees our largest and most varied portfolio of work, from urban hospitals to rural clinics, covering every level of Ethiopia’s eye health system. Through our Flying Eye Hospital, hospital-based trainings and long-term fellowships, we have trained eye care teams with the skills they need to serve their local communities.

In 20 years, 25 million treatments have been carried out by Orbis-trained health workers or at Orbis-supported health facilities and communities. We’ve helped set up and support more than 260 primary eye care units, as well as 10 secondary eye care units and three paediatric eye care centres.

Orbis does what it says on the tin. It transforms lives through treating preventable blindness - and it works

Brian Little, Orbis medical volunteer

To ensure that more people can access the eye care they need closer to home, we introduced comprehensive rural eye health services in Southern Ethiopia. We have also trained community health workers and volunteers, teachers, nurses and other health workers to lead the fight against trachoma in their communities, to eliminate this painful blinding disease – and we’ve helped to distribute 44.5 million doses of antibiotics as part of the fight against trachoma.

Because of the generosity of Orbis supporters, volunteers and partners, millions of people now have access to life-changing eye care.

Together we have done so much, but we still have so much to do: from training more eye care workers across the health system, to expanding our support to more communities affected by trachoma. Orbis will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that no one in Ethiopia loses their sight simply because they don’t have access to quality eye care.