MEET ABIYOT: INTEGRATED EYE CARE WORKER, ETHIOPIA | Orbis

MEET ABIYOT: INTEGRATED EYE CARE WORKER, ETHIOPIA

Abiyot is an Integrated Eye Care Worker in Gamo Gofa, Ethiopia, where he grew up. He lives there with his wife and four children. Trained just two years ago, he has made a significant impact on his community already.

Abiyot says: “I remember my first surgery. It was done in Konso in the very first training. I was a bit nervous, but my guide came and showed me how to do it. I watched carefully and from then on, I started doing the perfect surgery!”

He’s joking, but he’s not wrong. Since Abiyot began working, he hasn’t had a single complication in any of his surgeries. In his 20 day training alone, he performed 32 surgeries; he was the first in the training process to do this.

Working Life

Abiyot works from a small surgery, with just one bed and sterilised surgical instruments. He covers two health centres, performing up to 50 trachomatous trichiasis surgeries a month. He also performs home visits, and says this is where he is able to “find the cases”, before bringing them to the health centre for treatment.

Colleagues say he is “wonderful”. During our visit, while walking through one of the communities Abiyot works in, an old woman, who happened to be walking past, stopped him. They spoke briefly, and he checked her eyes there and then. He is clearly trusted. During a day spent at one of the health centres Abiyot covers, he had bought lunch for patients treated that day, as well as the family members who had come with them.

One of Abiyot’s patients is Mandido, whom he performed trachoma surgery on. She had previously been too scared to go through with it, but after Abiyot met her in her village, his gentle counselling helped give her the courage to undergo the treatment she needed. Without his help, she would have lived with her trachoma, and may eventually have been left blind.

Abiyot

Integrated Eye Care Worker, Ethiopia

I remem­ber one woman. When I found her, one of her eyes was total­ly blind due to tra­choma; and in the sec­ond eye she was suf­fer­ing again from tra­choma. She refused to be treat­ed before, and the sur­geons before me tried every­thing. Luck­i­ly, I did every­thing I could to per­suade her to come to the health cen­tre, and she came and had the surgery and it went real­ly well. Now she is OK, she’s work­ing at dai­ly activ­i­ties. That makes me happy.

Home Life

It doesn’t stop at the health centre – Abiyot takes his work home with him as well: “I teach [my family]. I give them information about trachoma; to wash their hands, to wash their face two times daily, to wash their hands after visiting the toilet so they’re prevented from trachoma.”

“People who are affected by trachoma – it has a negative impact on their daily lives. When they get surgery and are treated well, they can go back to their daily activities. I’m very happy and I enjoy the work.”

Thanks to people like Abiyot, Orbis can keep improving eye health in communities across Ethiopia. We want to train more community health care workers in all aspects of eye care, from raising awareness of services and identification to diagnosis, referral and treatment.

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