World Humanitarian Day - The Rohingya Community in Cox’s Bazar

World Humanitarian Day (19 August) advocates for the survival, wellbeing and dignity of those affected by crises. This year’s theme is #NoMatterWhat which highlights how humanitarians continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities they serve, regardless of the circumstances.

Our eye health programme in Cox's Bazar, funded by Qatar Charity, is supporting local partners to deliver services to the Rohingya refugees and local host population as part of the humanitarian relief effort.

Since Qatar Charity’s support of the project began in April 2022, 84,793 visual screenings have been conducted, 6,189 glasses prescribed,1,634 surgeries carried out for conditions such as cataracts and 186 local people trained.

Fifty-three frontline workers, including community health staff, teachers, social workers and religious leaders, have been trained on eye health in the past quarter alone, and refer those with problems to nearby centres for treatment. This is an integral part of the Qatar Charity funded two-year programme.

With only 1,200 ophthalmologists in Bangladesh, located mainly in cities, many adults and children live with untreated eye disease, so the development and expansion of eye health services is vital to protect the vision of the local host community and the Rohingya population who might otherwise be left without treatment.

Dr. Saiful Islam, an eye specialist at Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital in Cox’s Bazar, said: “I have accumulated countless memories whilst treating the Rohingya people. A blind person is overcome with joy when they see for the first time after surgery. I once treated a woman who after regaining her sight after cataract surgery started running around shouting, ‘I can see people’ She held me and started crying. She did not know that I was her surgeon. It brought tears to my eyes.

“I thank everyone who has supported Orbis’s work in Cox’s Bazar. There is now hope for the Rohingya people, and we want to continue serving the community here with the eye care they need.”

A study undertaken by Orbis and Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital, which took place between February 2018 and March 2019, revealed that blindness was three-to-six times more prevalent in the Rohingya population compared to local residents. Patients ages 18-39, peak working age in the community, also suffered blindness at a rate more than three times.

Our mission is to collaborate with our generous network of partners, supporters, staff and expert medical volunteers to empower local communities with the skills and resources needed to fight blindness on their own - so that they can continue to save and restore vision in their own communities for years to come.

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