More than 75 million people in Ethiopia live in trachoma-endemic areas – the highest of any country in the world. In 2016, we helped to distribute 9.3 million antibiotic treatments for trachoma in the country.
In 2012, the Global Trachoma Mapping Project helped to track cases of trachoma in Ethiopia. It showed that the disease was a public health problem in 90 per cent of districts – of the 99.4 million people who live in the country, more than 75 million live in trachoma-endemic areas, the highest of any country in the world. The backlog of people who urgently need eyelid surgery to prevent blindness from trichiasis (advanced trachoma) is more than 693,000, again the highest number of any country worldwide.
To tackle this, Sightsavers is helping to roll out the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy, which aims to stop the spread of trachoma through surgery, antibiotics, facewashing and environmental improvements.
Imagine having to walk eight hours to get to work. That’s the challenge facing Sister Habiba Shemsu, an eye care worker in south-west Ethiopia. Yet she says it’s worth it to help save sight in rural Africa.
Before the outreach project was set up, all patients had to travel to the city’s health centre or the district hospital, a journey that was all but impossible for poor or elderly patients. Now, local communities can receive treatment much closer to home. Read Sister Habiba’s story.