The ORBIS Paediatric Eye Care Centre offers specialised treatment and surgery for blinding conditions that are common in South African children, such as paediatric congenital cataract, glaucoma and retinoblastoma. It is housed within Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and serves the 3.5 million children in the KZN, which is among the poorest provinces in South Africa, and where an estimate 26% of the country’s blind children live.
‘These services are no luxury, they are very important because children’s eyes differ significantly from adults and require timely, specialised procedures, equipment and follow ups to ensure the best possible visual outcomes.’ Explains Dr Dharmesh Parbhoo, the consultant ophthalmologist heading up the clinical work at the Paediatric Eye Care Centre in Durban.
The programme targets children under the ages of six, before school going age, where early detection combined with a high quality medical service and follow up will save the sight of thousands of children a year.
Funding for the first year of the programme was secured via many generous donations from trusts and foundations as well as through the Tom Knight Appeal - a gala dinner held in London to honour one of ORBIS's founding trustees, Tom Knight.
Specialised services for children in Africa and South Africa are extremely rare, this is why ORBIS has made a commitment to develop 10 Paediatric Eye Care Centres in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 10 years. This centre is the second after the Paediatric Eye Care Centre in Kitwe, Zambia.