Sightsavers has been working to improve eye health services in Mozambique since 2007, helping to restore sight to many thousands of people in the country.
I have worked for Sightsavers in Mozambique for more than a decade: during that time, I’ve seen the difference we can make to people’s lives. In 2007, Sightsavers helped to establish the first ever specialist eye department at Nampula Central Hospital.
Now, a research paper shows exactly what we have achieved.
The study highlights a number of positive changes in the years after the eye department was set up. It shows that between 2011 and 2018, the prevalence of blindness in Nampula Province fell by more than a third. The proportion of people receiving cataract operations nearly trebled, while eye health services expanded from one to 19 districts.
These fantastic results are testament to the hard work of my colleagues and Sightsavers’ partners here in Mozambique and in the UK. We also wouldn’t be where we are today without the generosity of many of our supporters, who have backed this programme since the very start.
Mozambique is one of the least-developed countries in the world. The high levels of poverty and the shortage of healthcare staff make it a priority for eye health interventions.
Since we started working to improve eye health services in the country’s northern region, it has been rewarding to see how we’ve been able to make a difference here. At that time, fewer than 150 operations a year were being done here. Now, the figure has risen to several thousand.
Through our efforts in northern Mozambique, we have helped to provide life-changing eye health services to a great many people throughout the region. This is borne out by the findings of the research. Between 2011 and 2018, the study found that the prevalence of blindness reduced by more than a third, from 6.2% to 4.5%. In our experience, this is a substantial drop in a short space of time.
Another positive finding was that cataract surgical coverage had risen from 10.1% to 28.3%. Cataract surgical coverage is a measure of the percentage of people who have had cataract surgery, out of the total number who are in need of surgery in a given area. This is an important indicator for eye health, and for monitoring progress towards universal health coverage.
The study found that the overall quality of cataract surgery had improved too. This is clear from the fact there was an increase in ‘good’ visual outcomes and a decrease in ‘poor’ visual outcomes compared with the 2011 study.
As well as setting up a specialist eye department at Nampula Central Hospital, we have also run outreach camps in the districts in Nampula Province. We have adapted our services to make sure they are accessible, in particular for people with disabilities. The video below explains more about our work to make eye health more accessible, including the work we’re doing in Nampula.
Our recent research paper was based on two rapid assessments of avoidable blindness (RAABs) in northern Mozambique in 2011 and 2018. A RAAB is a relatively quick and simple-to-use survey that helps us understand the scale and type of visual impairment affecting a given population.More about RAABs