The Challenge

More than one million Ethiopians are blind, and close to three million have low vision. The country also has a high prevalence of trachoma — a highly contagious and completely preventable eye disease that can result in blindness after years of repeated infection. With these challenges, Ethiopia faces immense difficulties to meet the healthcare needs of its population, particularly in rural areas.

Our Response

  •  We're implementing a model for comprehensive rural eye care to address critical gaps through capacity building, healthcare technology development and advocacy.
  • Orbis is training both community and health-care workers in all aspects of eye care, from awareness of services, identification, diagnosis, referral and treatment.
  • We're addressing the enormous challenge of trachoma in Ethiopia by implementing the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy (eyelid surgery, antibiotics, face cleanliness and environmental improvement).
  • We're helping to reduce the risk of trachoma by training nurses to perform trichiasis surgeries at primary healthcare units and building awareness by teaching community health workers, teachers, local women’s group leaders and community leaders about eye health.


Our Presence

We have a longstanding partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, through which we work to develop and strengthen the capacity of existing government health providers to deliver eye care services at the primary, secondary and tertiary level.

Together, we’re building effective referral networks between primary, secondary and tertiary services to ensure that people are appropriately treated at the right level of the healthcare system to maximize their potential visual recovery, and ensure that follow-up services are available.

Success in Ethiopia

  • We were the first eye care organization to implement the World Health Organization–endorsed strategy to eliminate trachoma in Ethiopia
  • We supported the development of Ethiopia’s first pediatric ophthalmology clinic and its first eye bank
  • Orbis increased the number of Ethiopia’s ophthalmologists from 76 to 120 with the help of our local partners
  • We also helped increase the number of cataract surgeons from 3 to 48, and the number of optometrists from zero to 123