Following World Sight Day, ORBIS calls for action with the release of its report.
The latest report launched by the not for profit, sight-saving organisation ORBIS (www.orbis.org.uk), highlights the disturbing number of children suffering from preventable blindness in Sub-Saharan Africa. With numbers reaching more than 100,000 in South Africa alone, the long term impact on children and their families can be devastating.
Despite a general improvement in maternal and child health in Africa as a result of greater access to health services – specifically coverage of immunisation and vitamin A supplementation – hundreds of thousands of children in Africa continue to lose their sight as a result of preventable causes.
Many avertable eye conditions can be treated however the timing is critical.
Despite the numbers of those suffering from impaired vision reaching worryingly high figures, the number of eye care facilities available to treat conditions are severely low. The World Health Organisation recommends one paediatric ophthalmic centre per ten million population. 37 countries across sub Saharan Africa, with a collective population of an estimated 300 million, do not have any such centres.
Visual impairment has enormous economic implications and this report suggests that without major intervention and planning to rectify the situation, the cost by 2020 could reach more than $110 billion. As those struggling with blindness and reduced vision require care, the burden placed upon families from reversible eye conditions that can be easily treated, can keep families in poverty and places a significant strain on resource poor environments.
Reshma Dabideen, Senior Programme Adviser at ORBIS and one of the authors of the report comments; “There is an unequal distribution of specialists and facilities between the private and public sector, and between rural and urban settings. Eighty per cent of Ophthalmologists service the private sector, leaving access to treatment out of reach of many citizens.
“However many governments are eager to remedy the situation by implementing the changes outlined in the report in order to reverse this unnecessary trend.”
ORBIS is continuing to expand its work in the region; establishing paediatric eye care centres and working with UK and international medical volunteers to provide training for ophthalmic doctors and nurses in these developing countries. By focusing on education and working closely with eye care centres, the charity aims to enable countries to significantly reduce the numbers of children struggling unnecessarily.
Link to research: http://www.orbis.org.uk/data//2/rec_docs/1421_ORBIS-TowardsBetterEyeHealth.pdf
For information on ORBIS or further images, please contact Natasha Lee, Communications Officer on 020 7608 7284 or Nlee@orbis.org.uk
Notes to Editor:
ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local hospitals to develop workable and lasting solutions to fight the tragedy of unnecessary blindness.
By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action - to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable.
To learn more about ORBIS, please visit www.orbis.org.uk
> The report "Towards Better Eye Health Care for Africa’s Children" can be read in full here.
> An abridged version is also available here.
> More Research and Advocacy documents.