Since 2001, we have been working in Zambia, where today nearly 400,000 people are blind or visually impaired and there’s only one ophthalmologist for every one million people. Together with our partners, we are creating access to affordable eye health care. We are also focused on addressing the root causes of blindness and vision loss, such as access to clean water to prevent the spread of blinding trachoma.
Working in partnership with the Zambian government, in 2016 our teams established eye units at primary health centres in three underserved compounds of Lusaka: Bauleni, Chawama and Mandevu. Thanks to our advocacy efforts, the Ministry of Health ensured these eye units were staffed with trained ophthalmic personnel.
The presence of a local vision centre and door-to-door surveys by community health workers allowed patients to be screened for eye conditions and referred to a local eye unit or one of our three partner hospitals for additional care, if needed.
Based on the success of this project and our door-to-door eye health screening by Operation Eyesight community health workers, the Ministry of Health asked us to replicate this model in two other underserved compounds of Matero and Kanyama.
We also launched a school eye health program in Matero. Programs like this one not only benefit students but connect entire families with their local health system. In 2022, we are planning on building on this success and expanding similar programs to other schools.
Clean water and avoidable blindness
We drill and rehabilitate boreholes in Zambian communities where trachoma is prevalent. Lack of access to fresh water and inadequate hygiene often contributes to the spread of trachoma and other infectious diseases.
Access to clean water allows people to wash their hands, faces and clothing and prevent the spread of infection.
In recent years, we’ve shifted our focus from drilling new water boreholes to rehabilitating existing, defunct boreholes. The cost savings from this approach allow us to reach more communities. Partnership with local communities and governments empowers communities to test water quality and maintain their borehole.
people received eye exams
people reached through door-to-door survey
people treated for eye conditions
pairs of eyeglasses dispensed
community health workers trained in primary eye care