Income generating activity: Potter for HIV+ woman

Blindness and Visual Impairment

With a dedicated team of cataract surgeons, ophthalmic nurses, the Daughters of Charity work collaboratively with Spanish doctors and the Ethiopian Government to prevent, diagnose, treat, blindness and visual impairment in Ethiopia.


One of the leading causes of blindness in Ethiopia is trachoma. The problem is particularly severe in Northern Ethiopia, where up to 85% of the population show signs of having had contact with the bacteria which causes the infection (Chlamydia). The bacterium is spread from person to person by flies and is easily preventable. Citizens, particularly those who work outside, need to be encouraged to regularly wash their faces with clean water - even if it is at the expense of water which would be used to cleanse the rest of the body or wash clothes. In arid, agricultural regions where such water isn’t easily accessible, disseminating this message is a public health necessity. The main barrier in achieving this outcome is finding an appropriate platform for reaching the isolated rural populations.

The Daughters of Charity have devised an innovative and collaborative strategy in the prevention of trachoma.

Ophthalmic nurses and cataract surgeons (from St Louise Eye Clinic and Abba Philipos Memorial Eye Clinic) are sent out to governmental health institutions which are more accessible to rural communities. Villagers are encouraged to make this journey by the offer of free examinations and cataract surgeries (if applicable). It is in these clinics where the rural communities receive education on eye care and trachoma prevention.

Diagnostics and treatment

Diagnostics organised by the Daughters of Charity are carried out by doctors in associated eye clinics (St. Louise and Abba Philipos Memorial Eye Clinic) and by the ophthalmic nurses/surgeons who travel to rural governmental health institutions. In 2016, the two eye clinics saw a combined total of 113004 patients. The most common afflictions included trachoma (treatable with inexpensive antibiotics such as tetracycline); cataracts (clouding of the lens which is can be removed by a simple surgical procedure) and glaucoma (cases are referred to Quiha eye hospital and Spanish doctors who collaborate with the Daughters of Charity).

Because cataract surgeries need expensive equipment and sterile environments, treatments generally occur in eye clinics rather than in the villages. Therefore, transport expenses are provided to ensure that even rural people can have access to this crucial intervention. This project requires increased funding as there are currently 600,000 people in Ethiopia awaiting cataract surgery.

Basic Health Needs

Basic Health Needs

Currently, the Daughters of Charity run three health centres in Ethiopia which support the basic health needs of their local communities. The centres include Danka Polyclinic and Abba Phillipos Memorial Eye Clinic, Alecu Clinic and Alitena Health Centre. Especially Alitena health center and Alecu clinic provide health care 24h/7day to communities that live at the peripheries. In 2016, these health centres served a total of 87196 patients. A breakdown of their services, along with the HIV and visual health centres

Concluding Remarks

Basic Health Needs

The Daughters of Charity have shown how using a holistic, pragmatic approach to healthcare, integrating both curative and preventative medicine, can make a significant improvement to the lives of millions. However, with Ethiopia’s rapidly expanding population, it is evident that the scope of these operations needs to increase to keep up with demand, and for this to happen, the Daughters of Charity need more funding and resources.