UK Aid helps expand sight-saving work in Ethiopia

July 2018

Orbis UK is delighted to have been chosen as one of 30 charities to receive a UK Aid Direct grant from the UK government. The grant will enable us to extend our vital sight-saving work in Ethiopia, where almost two million people are visually impaired.

The three leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in Ethiopia are cataract, refractive error and blinding trachoma – an infection which, if left untreated, can lead to trichiasis, a painful condition in which the eyelids turn inwards so the lashes scrape the cornea, resulting in blindness. This disease disproportionately affects women and children.

Over the next five years, the grant will help us to establish vital eye health services in the Gedeo, Amaro and Burji areas of southern Ethiopia. Orbis is already working in 12 areas in Ethiopia to provide comprehensive rural eye health, and this UK aid-funded project will expand our reach, ensuring that even more eye care workers are trained and more people with avoidable blinding conditions treated.

An Ethiopian child is given antibiotic Zithromax to help eradicate trachoma

Most of the 1.3 million people in Gedeo, Amaro and Burji districts live in rural areas. Infrastructure is extremely limited, and there is restricted access to even basic healthcare services. When we began working there earlier this year, there were no established eye health services at all. People with eye conditions are forced to travel, often long distances, for treatment – or face becoming unnecessarily blind.

Through the UK Aid Direct grant, Orbis will receive 75% of the funds needed for this project, but we still need to raise the remaining 25%.

Ethiopiant trachoma patient Aylito after surgery. She looks down, an eye patch covering her right eye, her chest covered in a blanket

With your help, Orbis will:

1. Establish much needed eye health facilities and provide training and support to build eye care capacity at all levels of the health service

2. Implement the World Health Organisation’s SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement) to eliminate blinding trachoma

3. Educate and empower community members with the knowledge they need to look after their sight, and the confidence of knowing when to seek help.

4. Train nurses, community health workers, volunteers and teachers to identify eye conditions and refer people to eye health facilities.

With your support and that of UK aid, Orbis aims to bring sustainable eye care to Gedeo, Amaro and Burji, ensuring that fewer people in Ethiopia are forced to live with unnecessary blindness.

About UK Aid Direct

UK Aid Direct logo
UK Aid Direct is a 5-year, £150 million challenge fund from the UK government. UK Aid Direct grants are for medium and small-sized UK and international civil society organisations working to reduce poverty overseas.
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