Over 9000 Children Receive Eye Tests in Zambia Thanks to QFFD

A new eye health programme in Zambia, dedicated to improving services for children, has screened more than 9,000 in its first six months of operation, and provided over 850 prescriptions for glasses.

The project, funded by Qatar Fund for Development and implemented by Orbis, falls under the Qatar Creating Vision (QCV) initiative, which has been expanding access to vision loss services across Asia and Africa since 2016.

The QCV project is focusing on delivering paediatric eye care in the Copperbelt province, which has a population of 2.5 million - 40 % of which is under the age of 15. With close to half of the district living in rural areas, eye care can be difficult to access. With childhood vision loss, it’s vital that support is provided quickly before permanent damage can occur. A lack of access to eye care can impact educations and livelihoods, creating a cycle of poverty.

Community engagement is playing a significant role in the strategy to tackle avoidable blindness and its devastating impact. In order to connect eye health professionals to communities in the most rural locations across the province, 250 bicycles have been procured for volunteer Community Eye Health Champions. These bikes will make sure that eye tests can be delivered to those who need it most, overcoming geographical challenges that often restrict access.

Radio segments and film screenings are also delivering key public health messages to raise awareness of vision loss and where a person should go if experiencing symptoms. To support all of this activity, almost 120 frontline health workers have been trained in primary eye care, with more training set to take place.

HE Mr. Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of Qatar Fund for Development, expressed his commitment to the transformative impact of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, stating: "Through our unwavering support for projects like the eye health programme in Zambia, we are not just addressing vision loss; we are investing in the future of these children and breaking the cycle of poverty. By providing access to essential eye care services, we are fostering a brighter, more inclusive world where every child has the opportunity to thrive. Qatar Fund for Development remains dedicated to making a lasting difference in the lives of those in need."

Rebecca Cronin, Orbis UK CEO said: “Over half of Zambia’s young population lives below the poverty line. Avoidable blindness can rob a person of their education and independence, and yet a simple pair of glasses can mean the difference between a child attending school or being forced to drop out.

“With a significant number of children living in rural locations in the Copperbelt province, ensuring everyone has access to information about eye health and eye tests and treatments is vital. This project is working hard to tackle these geographical barriers, through a dedicated team of eye health professionals, school screenings, bikes, radio programmes and film screenings. These important activities are made possible thanks to the ongoing support of Qatar Fund for Development. Together we hope to ensure that no child suffers the consequences of untreated vision loss.”

Qatar Creating Vision

Between 2016 and 2020 in India and Bangladesh, thanks to the Qatar Fund for Development’s vital support, Orbis and their strategic partners provided more than 6 million eye tests and treatments, mainly to children, through Qatar Creating Vision. The project in Zambia is the second activity of Phase Two of the initiative, which began in Ethiopia in April 2022. The project has delivered over 100,000 screenings to communities to identify blinding Trachoma and other conditions, almost 420,000 doses of antibiotics and more than 3,200 surgeries.

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