Yuddha Sapkota South East Asia Regional Manager IAPB
As reported in my earlier blog post, there are more than a million Rohingya people displaced from Myanmar residing in refugee camps in Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh. Since 2017, IAPB and its members have supported the Bangladesh Government to provide eye care services to them including carrying out a situation analysis in 2019. In 2019, a Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness Survey (RAAB) was carried out but only in population of age 50 and above.
The 2019 RAAB failed to grasp the other eye health issues such as visual impairment due to refractive error, blinding and potentially blinding conditions in population younger than 50 years old. It is important to know the eye health condition of this population too.
Therefore, Seva Foundation and Orbis International are taking the initiative to carry out a Rapid Assessment of Refractive Error (RARE) survey in the population of age 9 to 49 years old in Rohingya refugee camp.
IAPB is providing technical support. I was on hand to train the survey team and data collection began on 20 February 2023. Once this survey is completed, we will have a comprehensive picture of the eye health need of this population including the magnitude and causes of blinding and visual impairment which will enable us to formulate a eye health strategic plan which will help in resource mobilization.
RAAB 2019 findings
The 2019, RAAB showed the prevalence of blindness as 2.14% in the population aged 50 and above. The survey result showed that there is a high prevalence of blindness and visual impairment in these communities. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness along with other causes such as glaucoma , corneal lesion and posterior segment problems.