Health hero Mulat Zerihun Lemu speaks to a woman in Ethiopia about the problems she has been having with her eyes [Paige Rohe/ Carter Center]

Mulat Zerihun Lemu: ‘We stand with them’

Meet the Ethiopian doctor who is helping bring an end to the unnecessary blindness caused by trachoma infections.

“It is hard to ignore the groups of older ladies huddled under trees, nearly blinded by trachoma and in too much pain to contribute to their family life. But we know that we do not have to look at this suffering and avert our own eyes. We can do something about it.”

Mulat Zerihun Lemu has been working in the Amhara region of Ethiopia for over ten years. Amhara is reportedly one of the worst effected areas for trachoma in the world and the health heroes like Lemu are turning the tide on a disease that has caused crippling blindness in the community. 

As the regional manager for the Carter Center’s trachoma and malaria control projects in the Amhara region in Ethiopia, Lemu works in conjunction with the Ethiopian government, Lions Club international and other groups.

The steps taken to manage trachoma are known as the S.A.F.E interventions; Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial hygiene, and Environmental improvement.

In November 2013, the Carter Center used the Ethiopian branch to distribute the 100 millionth dose of the Pfizer-donated antibiotic Zithromax® which is used to treat active trachoma infection.

“Since my early days in public health, I continue to see how important it is to help people have the chance for better sight so they can work more easily to feed their families and watch their children grow up healthy and strong. Together, with the international community, we have the tools we need to go up to our neighbors, look them in the eye, and assure them that they do not suffer alone. We stand with them, ready to bring forward a brighter future.”

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health tells the stories of those who are doing incredible work to control, eliminate or eradicate some of the world’s worst diseases and conditions, such as rabies, polio, leprosy, malaria, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma and maternal mortality.