Patient Aylito, who has a cataract, looks off to the side


Almost six million people in Ethiopia are blind or visually impaired. Cataracts are the leading cause, affecting some 1.7 million people. The country also accounts for 30% of trachoma in sub-Saharan African countries, or 1.2 million people. With only 130 ophthalmologists in the country, there is a severe shortage of eye health professionals.

Orbis in Ethiopia

Orbis International supports 15 eye care projects across Ethiopia.

Since 2007, Orbis Ireland has focused its support on a comprehensive eye care project across 26 districts within the SNNP region of Ethiopia. We work to tackle the leading causes of avoidable blindness - trachoma, cataract and refractive error - in a region of 3.4 million people.

The Problem

Trachoma is completely preventable. In fact, it was only eradicated from Ireland in the 1950's. Unfortunately, avoidable blindness is still rife in Ethiopia and preventable, blinding diseases like trachoma are a serious health problem.

A scarcity of trained eye care professionals and services, low awareness of basic eye health and inadequate water and sanitation amenities, all contribute to the high prevalence of diseases like trachoma in Ethiopia.

When Orbis started working in Ethiopia in 1998 the population was around 65 million. It has now nearly doubled to 105 million. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1.8 million or 1.6% of the Ethiopian population is blind and 4.1 million or 3.7% live with low vision. This falls significantly above the world average of 1.2% and 3.4% respectively.

Striving for Change

Orbis's fight against avoidable blindness in Ethiopia.

In order to succeed Orbis has adopted the World Health Organisations SAFE strategy which is vital for the social and economic growth of this region. Orbis plans to leave this region with the knowledge and skills so they can thrive independently and allow future generations to grow up free from the threat of blindness.

Orbis International Ethiopia has been driving substantial progress in eye health for more than 20 years. Projects have covered a broad range of areas, including establishing an eye care system in rural southern Ethiopia, launching Ethiopia’s first paediatric eye clinic and its first paediatric ophthalmology unit. Our work has focused on:

  • building capacity, human resources and infrastructure
  • conducting and publishing research
  • raising community awareness, and
  • providing resources and tools.

Can you help us eliminate trachoma in Ethiopia?

Donate today

How We're Making a Difference


  • Federal Ministry of Health
  • The Charities and Societies Agency
  • Regional Health, Education, Finance and Economic Development Bureau
  • District level sector offices
  • ICTC
  • NCBP
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