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Seeing is Believing launches flagship East Africa Child Eye Health project

Published: 20.11.2012

Seeing is Believing is bringing together 15 different organisations across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to develop a unified approach to the delivery of child eye-health in the region. USD6.25mn will be invested through the programme with each country receiving a roughly equal amount of funding.

The need

There is a high need in this region for quality eye-care for children. At present, there are over 1.4 million blind children in the world. In East Afria, there are thousands of children who are unnecessarily blind from avoidable or treatable causes and many more who suffer visual impairment.

Professor Kovin Naidoo, Chairman of IAPB said: “The impact of blindness and visual impairment on children is far greater than for adults, as children have their whole lives before them,” he explained. “In terms of the impact on reducing years lived with disability, curing a child of blindness is, on average, equivalent to curing 10 adults with cataract surgeries.”

The approach

Working with the Ministries of Health and Ministries of Education in each of the three countries, two consortiums of NGOs have been formed to develop a coordinated and comprehensive approach to delivering child eye-health looking at the whole child’s needs.

One consortium will focus on strengthening clinical eye-care by providing 13 tertiary hospitals and 49 secondary hospitals with equipment to provide child eye-care services, as well as training the doctors, nurses and primary eye-care personnel to ensure high quality, joined up services for children.

The other consortium will focus on developing a school eye-health programme for 6-15 year olds so that eye care problems can be identified through the education system. The consortium will also work with maternal child health staff in order to identify pre-school children with eye-care problems and ensure they are identified early for treatment of eye-care problems. Early identification of eye problems in children is vital, as if issues are neglected they can often cause permanent or irreversible damage or impairment of children’s vision.

Seeing is Believing is a collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank and International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to help tackle avoidable blindness.