Addressing the crowds at a special celebration to mark 100 million doses of trachoma-fighting antibiotics

Orbis celebrates 100 million doses of sight-saving medication

We're delighted to announce that alongside our partners, we have delivered 100 million doses of the trachoma-fighting antibiotic azithromycin across Ethiopia.

The remarkable milestone was celebrated at a special ceremony in the Gacho Baba District, Gamo Zone, SNNPR, attended by Orbis International President and CEO Derek Hodkey, Country Director of Orbis Ethiopia Dr. Alemayehu Sisay, and our long-standing partners.

Six-year-old Hizkiel received the 100 millionth dose administered by Ethiopian government health minister Lelisa Amanuel, Senior Advisor to the State Minister, Ministry of Health. To mark the occasion, local children performed a play, and community leaders blessed the giving of the historic dose.

This was the moment six-year-old Hizkiel took the 100 millionth dose of trachoma-fighting azithromycin.

Dr. Alemayehu Sisay said: "Today is a historic moment. We started by administering one dose of azithromycin in 2003. It has been a long journey to reach this 100 millionth dose 20 years later. So, while the work continues, today has a special meaning to all involved in working to eliminate trachoma in Ethiopia."

The administration of the dose was part of a wider Orbis-led mass drug administration taking place in the Gacho Baba District. In 2022, we and our partners distributed 3.4 million antibiotic doses for trachoma control and elimination within Ethiopia. This work will continue in the coming years to ensure that trachoma can be eliminated in the country by 2030.

Trachoma elimination

Highly contagious but easily treatable and preventable, trachoma is one of the world’s oldest infectious diseases known to humans with ice age skeletons from 8,000 years ago showing evidence of the disease. If left untreated, it can cause extreme pain with repeat infections as eyelashes turn inwards and scratch the eye, causing scarring that ultimately leads to permanent blindness.

In 1993, the World Health Organisation endorsed the SAFE strategy to combat the disease in countries where trachoma continued to be prevalent. The strategy emphasizes Surgery for eyelashes turned inwards, Antibiotics to stop or slow the spread, Facial cleanliness which prevents transmission and infection, and Environmental improvement, particularly for water and sanitation to reduce transmission of infection.

By delivering 100 million doses of this sight-saving medication and implementing SAFE we have dramatically reduced the prevalence of trachoma across SNNPR, with almost half the districts achieving the threshold for trachoma elimination. While we have made great strides in combatting trachoma, 1.9 million people today are still blind or living with vision loss due to this tropical disease.

A Big Thank You to Our Partners

Orbis Ethiopia was established in 1998 with mass drug administrations taking off in 2003 as part of the SAFE strategy. A number of wonderful partners and funders have helped make the vital work toward eliminating trachoma in Ethiopia possible. They include FCDO/DFID, Irish Aid, Sightsavers, the Qatar Fund For Development, Jersey Overseas Aid Commission, The Clothworkers Foundation, Euromoney, CIFF, The End Fund as well as generous contributions from many other donors.

In collaboration with our partners, we will continue working hard to ensure that trachoma can be eliminated in Ethiopia by 2030, in line with World Health Organization goals. Thanks to all our partners who have made this vital work possible, and another big thank you to our kind supporters! With strong partnerships and their continued generosity, we can look forward to making trachoma history in Ethiopia in the near future.


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