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In Tanzania, eye diseases are ranked tenth among the top ten causes of morbidity. It is estimated that the prevalence of bilateral blindness is between 2.4% to 4.7% of the population according to data from a RAAB (2016) conducted in the Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Singida regions.
Cataract accounted for over 65% of blindness and over 75% of severe visual impairment.
In the three regions of Rukwa, Katavi and Kigoma, where the main Eye Care Programme is under implementation through base stations and outreaches, there is a population of more than 3.800.000. The WHO estimates that approximately 600.000 people are living with different forms of visual impairment (some are completely blind, some with visual impairment low vision, etc).
One will still find ‘traditional healers’ who tend to treat eye problems in the region by using local herbs and other traditional means. However, most of these treatments are unsuccessful and causes those affected to go completely blind.
As part of ensuring continuous eye health education is cascaded in the Rukwa Region, the German Committee for Prevention of Blindness (DKVB), the Internationaler Club der Schlitzohren e.V. and two other key stakeholders, the Rukwa Regional Government and the Catholic Church in Sumbawanga Diocese, have come up with a small project. The project will run for one year, from September 2020 and is due to finish August 2021.
The overall objective of this project is to raise awareness in the communities about Eye Health through the use of trained ophthalmic nurses and AMO Ophthalmologists in Rukwa Region
The project specifically intends to work on the following key aspects;
iii. To promote the expected advanced eye care services that will be provided in the Rukwa region through the advanced eye coordinating center at Dr. Atiman Hospital in Sumbawanga.
– School visits for Eye health awareness and screening
– Organize community gatherings for eye health awareness and screening
– Visit Health facilities for Eye health awareness and screening
– Visits in churches and mosques for eye health awareness and screening
– To conduct Live Radio Programmes at least once per month for Eye health education in Rukwa through community radio that has wider coverage/the whole region.
We expect that during and after this Project the communities in Rukwa Region will be more aware of Eye Health services. This will in turn improve their eye health seeking behavior because of which more people will able to get eye care services within their catchment area, reducing avoidable blindness.