World NTD Day 2022: Celebrating 23 Years Fighting Trachoma

January 30 is World NTD Day - a day to highlight the action needed to control & eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases. It's also an opportunity to celebrate the progress made by the global community to help the 1.7B lives threatened by them. For 23 years we've been working in Ethiopia to tackle the spread of blinding trachoma.

Read below about this Neglected Tropical Disease and the impact we've made working alongside our partners to help millions of people live a life free from blindness.

What Is Trachoma?

Trachoma - a painful bacterial eye infection - is one of those most prevalent Neglected Tropical Diseases and a major focus of our work globally, particularly in rural Ethiopia, where the burden of trachoma remains particularly high and eye care difficult to access.

Repeat trachoma infections can lead to trichiasis, a painful condition in which scarring causes the eyelid to turn in on itself and the eyelashes to scratch the eye, resulting in permanent vision loss without timely treatment. 1.9 million people are blind or have visual impairment due to trachoma around the world.

Going Door-to-Door

While trachoma is highly contagious, it is easily treatable with antibiotics if caught early. In December 2021, our teams went door-to-door across 102 districts in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR), Sidama, and the new Southwest Region.

Our teams administered nearly 9 million doses of trachoma-fighting antibiotics in just one month, part of the 12.2 million total doses of Azithromycin we distributed throughout 2021.

Our teams also delivered more than 16,000 trachomatous trichiasis surgeries last year, helping relieve communities from the burden of irreversible blindness.

Impact In 2021

Before the pandemic these Mass Drug Administrations took place in community settings, where many people would gather to receive their medication and have their eyes checked.

However, preventing the spread of COVID-19 has meant pivoting to a door-to-door approach. While safer, the process is nearly twice as time and resource consuming. A huge congratulations must go to everyone involved in these successful projects for all their extra effort and patience.

Dr. Alemayehu Sisay

Country Director for Orbis Ethiopia

This World NTD Day, Orbis is proud to join the WHO and more than 300 oth­er orga­ni­za­tions com­ing togeth­er to com­bat NTDs. We know this work is inte­gral to the achieve­ment of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goal 3 around good health and well-being. Our team has remained com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing to dis­trib­ute sight-sav­ing antibi­otics, even as we’ve faced hur­dles – from the pan­dem­ic to recent events in Ethiopia – because we know how restor­ing vision changes lives and communities.”

Meet Some of the People Involved

Meet two of the amazing eye health professionals helping their communities turn the tide on trachoma, and hear from those whose lives have been improved thanks to your support.

23 Years of Fighting Trachoma

Alongside our partners, we've made great strides in fighting trachoma over the last two decades. Not just through the distribution of antibiotics, but also by raising awareness of good hygiene — another critical tool in the fight against this blinding Neglected Tropical Disease.

Through the collaborative efforts of the global eye health community and those who support it, we've helped improve clean water access and sanitation. We've also led on trachoma research efforts, critical to tracking progress and informing strategy.

In 23 years of fighting blindness in Ethiopia we have:

  • Supported the construction of 130 communal and school latrines as well as protected 34 water points in the southern region of Ethiopia
  • Fostered behavioral change as part of our trachoma-elimination program, partnering with organizations with relevant experience and resources
  • Led on trachoma-related research, including conducting more than 160 trachoma impact and surveillance surveys across Ethiopia’s SNNPR between 2017 and 2021
  • Helped conduct surveys quantifying the prevalence of trachoma across the entire SNNPR in 2013 in collaboration with the Global Trachoma Mapping project (GTMP), the Federal Ministry of Health, SNNP Regional Health Bureau and other wonderful partners
  • Teamed up with renowned academic institutes in groundbreaking research that will improve trachomatous trichiasis surgery management to reduce recurrence

23 Years of Impact

A Big Thank You

This World NTD Day, we'd like to say a special thanks to all of our volunteers, partners and supporters who've been instrumental in the fight against trachoma.

With your continued support, our ultimate goal to eliminate this blinding infection can be reached.


Help Us Fight Neglected Tropical Disease Trachoma Across Ethiopia

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