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Project Background

In Ethiopia alone, there are over 76 million people who are at risk of contracting a blinding eye disease called trachoma. 

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world today. It is a chronic inflammation of the eye lining and eyelids, which become rough and scarred if left untreated. As trachoma advances, it can lead to permanent and irreversible blindness. 

Trachoma is a disease of poverty. It thrives in hot, dusty and overcrowded environments. Trachoma spreads from person to person through unwashed hands, shared face-wiping cloths, and by flies that have been in contact with the discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person. Communities without adequate infrastructure and basic services, such as running water, are also prone to trachoma. 

Further, women and children represent 75% of those suffering from trachoma in Ethiopia. 

In its initial stages, trachoma can be treated with a simple dose of antibiotics.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is working to address this eye health crisis in Ethiopia by performing surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities about hygiene and sanitation, and investing in infrastructure such as running water and working toilets. 

This project is a continuation of previously funded Footprints project: Eliminating Blinding Trachoma in Ethiopia

Project Overview

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Trachoma Elimination Project in Ethiopia is a large scale project across the region of Oromia to implement the World Health Organisation’s SAFE Strategy (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvements). 

The Foundation is addressing the acute shortage of eye health professionals in the country by training eye surgeons and nurses who can perform surgery on patients with advanced trachoma. These teams are then conducting outreach screening and surgery, ensuring people in remote areas are able to access services. 

Further, the development of strong sanitation and hygiene practices, and improving access to clean water and working toilets, will reduce the spread of trachoma in these communities.

What's Covered in Project Cost

In 2018, as part of the broader project, $20,000 will allow The Fred Hollows Foundation to achieve the following outputs: 

  • Train 5 lid surgeons to perform trachoma trichiasis surgery
  • Perform 200 trachoma trichiasis surgeries
  • Distribute 3,446 doses of antibiotics to combat trachoma

Partners and Community Involvement

The Fred Hollows Foundation always works in partnership with like-minded organisations and health providers to ensure the greatest reach and biggest impact of our sight restoring work.

Where possible, we work with governments to better implement eye health systems and train local doctors, nurses and health workers to help their communities.

In Ethiopia, The Foundation is working in collaboration with The Oromia Health Bureau to implement this project.

Part of a Larger Strategy

In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) created the WHO Alliance for the Global

Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020) to mobilise resources and foster cooperation within a worldwide partnership of Member States, nongovernmental organisations and the private sector. 

The Alliance is the principal platform through which the trachoma community works to deliver WHO’s recommended SAFE strategy.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is proud to work in partnership with strategic global partners, such as Sightsavers, and with global bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control to contribute towards this 2020 deadline. This project in Ethiopia forms part of that approach. 

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