Breaking News: Orbis Team Fighting Trachoma on the Ground in Ethiopia

The Orbis team is urgently responding to a crisis in southern Ethiopia. Millions of people suffer from an infectious, blinding disease called trachoma — and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. Find out what's going on right now in Ethiopia and how you can help prevent trachoma’s spread.

Treating 10 Million People in Southern Ethiopia

The fight against trachoma has accelerated in recent days in southern Ethiopia. The highly contagious disease is being met with an aggressive intervention — known as a mass drug administration (MDA).

An MDA treats and screens every person living in a defined area to control and eliminate the targeted disease and prevent blindness.

The Orbis team has set an ambitious goal to treat 10 million people in Southern Ethiopia. The antibiotic that we use is Zithromax, which is produced by Pfizer. Pfizer kindly donates all the Zithromax that the Orbis team needs to end this disease.

Thanks to the support of partners and donors, Orbis has virtually eradicated trachoma in 24 regions of Ethiopia — but there's more work to be done. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to pause the program, which would have upended years of progress.

The Challenges of Tackling Trachoma During Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic caused delays in the widespread distribution of the antibiotic. To move ahead with the MDA, we needed to reimagine how we deliver the doses of Zithromax to account for COVID-19 safety precautions.

Happening right now: Our teams are working hard to fight trachoma in a COVID secure manner

Before the global pandemic, treatments were most often distributed at a central point within a community, like a church or a school. Social distancing guidelines prevent community gatherings. So our outreach workers will go door-to-door to administer the medication.

Delivering the treatment to people's homes takes longer and costs more. We also need to ensure our team's safety, which requires personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep everyone safe and COVID-19 at bay.

A community in Ethiopia wait for antibiotics to reduce the spread of trachoma

A mass drug administration before the COVID-19 pandemic

We need your urgent support to keep this work going. If we cannot deliver the doses of the antibiotic, years of progress to eradicate trachoma in the region might be set back.

Please donate now to help provide PPE to keep outreach workers and the communities safe.

Making Great Strides in Eradicating Trachoma

Orbis has been fighting trachoma in Ethiopia for over 20 years. Thanks to our wonderful supporters and partners, we've made great progress towards eradicating trachoma in the country. But we won't rest until avoidable blindness is eliminated.

Dr. Danny Haddad

Orbis Chief of Programs

It’s just incred­i­ble to see the amount of progress that we’ve made over the past years, and that we’re con­tin­u­ing to make in Ethiopia.

SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA. Maps of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, showing Orbis's progress to eradicate trachoma. Red indicates districts endemic for trachoma. Many areas have turned green, which means the blinding disease has been eliminated.

With You, There's Hope in Sight for the People of Ethiopia

Dr. Alemayehu Sisay

Country Director for Orbis Ethiopia

Blind­ness and pover­ty are inter­linked, so they cre­ate a vicious cycle. So, if a per­son is blind from tra­choma, the like­li­hood of its effect on the fam­i­ly is massive.

It’s been a tumultuous year for many reasons, but it hasn’t been without glimmers of hope. Today, there’s hope in sight for millions of people in Ethiopia.

The need is urgent to stop the spread of trachoma. Further delays to the Zithromax distribution could roll back years of work in the country.

To deliver the treatment safely during the pandemic, we need your help to provide PPE for our outreach workers. Please donate today and keep hope in sight for people suffering from this blinding disease.

The Orbis team is on the ground right now in Ethiopia. We will share updates on the progress of the Zithromax distribution soon. If you'd like to learn more about eradicating trachoma in Ethiopia, watch or listen to this episode of our new video podcast series SIGHTLINES.

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