A Volunteer Army Tackling Trachoma with the Support of QFFD

At the beginning of June each year, volunteers and their amazing contributions are celebrated during Volunteer Week. Their work impacts communities and individuals by changing lives through their dedication to their cause.

With funding from the Qatar Fund for Development, the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, implemented by Orbis, has now launched in Ethiopia, and a wonderful team of volunteers will be supporting the vital sight saving activity.

From now until September 2023, Orbis will train over 600 volunteers, some of whom are part of Ethiopia’s Health Development Army, will be given the skills needed to screen every adult in their community and identify anyone with an infectious eye disease called trachoma. They will then refer them to a primary care nurse trained by Orbis as an Integrated Eye Care Worker for further assessments. Similarly, these volunteers will also support the delivery of Mass Drug Administrations, which provide antibiotics to communities to help prevent trachoma…and all in their spare time! All our training of volunteers includes how to follow Covid-19 protocols that keep everyone as safe as possible.

A child's height is measured to identify the dose of antibiotics required

Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness, and is highly contagious, but preventable and treatable through the World Health Organisation’s SAFE strategy:

  • Surgery,
  • Antibiotics,
  • Facial Cleanliness,
  • Environmental improvements.

Andrew Wardle, Senior Grant Manager, Orbis UK said: “In rural Ethiopia, the burden of trachoma remains high, as medical support can be hard to reach. After many episodes of the infection, adults can develop blinding trachoma trichiasis, where the eye lashes turn inwards, scrapping across the eye’s surface with every painful blink.

“Volunteers know their communities well, so are essential to reaching everybody, especially those who are more difficult to make contact with. Orbis works with volunteers year on year to find everyone with trichiasis and to complete the Mass Drug Administrations required, and that gives communities confidence in the services supported by volunteers.”

A family is visited as part of door to door services to tackle trachoma

Orbis, supported by Qatar Fund for Development, are working with partners to continue tackling trachoma alongside other eye conditions, in three locations in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia. The programme will deliver over 300,000 services, including screenings, distribution of antibiotics, spectacles, and conducting surgeries, all as part of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative.

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