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Since September 2016, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) under the leadership of Ms. Sabina Ibraimova, RCSK Deputy Director General / Head of Health Department, has been successfully implementing a project to improve access to and quality of eye care services in remote regions of Kyrgyzstan. The project’s main components include improving local health structures at primary and secondary levels and enhancing referral services, as well as ensuring relevant public health policies are updated / developed to strengthen ophthalmic services in Kyrgyzstan. Since its launch, the project has tremendously contributed to achieving the Vision 2020 main priorities, putting measures to eliminate the main causes of preventable and treatable blindness. The Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan has been actively supporting the Ministry of Health in strengthening local health systems to ensure Vision 2020 agenda is implemented in the country, and Ms. Ibraimova in her role as Head of Health / Deputy Director General has led this process, ensuring the following milestones are achieved over a short period of time:
• Thousands of people in one of the poorest regions of Kyrgyzstan – Batken province (with poverty rate of 30% and more) gained access to quality eye care services. In 2017, Batken Province Hospital launched its Eye Care Unit and the RCSK ensured the unit was provided with the latest equipment and trained doctors and staff so that the unit can perform eye surgeries. In addition, the project helped to open the first optic shop in Batken town so that local population have access to proper eye glasses. Now, thousands of Kyrgyzstanis in Batken province do not have to travel hundreds of kilometers to other cities to get ophthalmic services.
• Since the launch of the new Eye Care Unit in March 2017, the unit conducted more than 417 successful eye surgeries (over 80% are cataract surgeries) and over 15,000 consultations.
• Three eye units in regional hospitals and one in territorial hospital managed to increase the number of eye surgeries and consultations with the help of the new surgical and diagnostic equipment. Six Family Medical Centers (primary health units) received modern diagnostics equipment and have been facilitating eye services to local population in remote, rural areas of Kyrgyzstan.
• The project conducted two historic Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) studies in Kyrgyzstan (in southern regions in September – October 2017, in norther regions September – October 2019). RAAB findings and recommendations are being used as a basis by the Ministry of Health to further develop and enhance the National Eye Care Programme.
• Since March 2017, more than 7,000 people in the most remote areas received professional eye care consultations as part of Health Caravans supported by RCSK. The project helped to organized these Health Caravans, bus tours of doctors, as an outreach effort for early detection in remote rural districts.
• The RCSK volunteers helped to inform over 12,000 people about eye health, preventable blindness and increased opportunities for eye care in their respective areas.