We’ve awarded a major grant to Orbis UK for a project aimed at tackling trachoma as a public health problem in 41 countries. Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world, and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of 1.9 million people. In 2016, 190.2 million people lived in trachoma endemic areas and were at risk of trachoma blindness.
Ethiopia has by far the highest prevalence of trachoma in the world. Blindness from trachoma is irreversible. Using the SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement), and building on successful work already undertaken in three other Ethiopian districts, the project will develop quality comprehensive eye care, integrated into the existing health system, accessible to all at community, primary, and secondary levels. There are two specific elements to the project. The first is training for healthcare professionals, teachers, and volunteer members of the Health Department Army.
The second is eye care services, including trichiasis and cataract surgery, for the entire population in each of the three districts. The Orbis project will be informed by, and work towards, the World Health Organisation’s goal to eliminate trachoma globally by 2020.