Sightsavers’ Liberia country office has helped to renovate and reopen the eye clinic at Phebe Hospital in northern Liberia. The clinic closed two years ago when CBM, which used to run the facility, ended its work in the country. This meant patients had to travel more than four hours to the capital, Monrovia, to have their eyes checked or have cataract operations.
The renovation has enabled the government to relaunch its eye care services in the area, and Sightsavers is helping to train three ophthalmologists, two nurses and an optometric technician who will eventually work at the clinic. More from Liberia
Sightsavers’ Senegal office has been working with the national electoral commission and the local disabled people’s association to make sure the political process is inclusive of people with disabilities. Sign language translations are now being offered on election speeches, although the aim is to go further, and the commission has appointed a focal person to investigate accessibility.
Issues that are being looked into include the physical accessibility of polling stations, availability of assistants to help people vote, particularly people with visual impairments, and the need to raise awareness about disability throughout the electoral process. More from Senegal
Recent research from Sightsavers’ CATCH project showed that women and girls in Malawi sometimes struggle to get help for eye conditions and may have trouble attending eyes screenings because of cultural issues, household hierarchies and community traditions.
As a result, the project has changed its approach to screening and surgery, enabling more women to attend and increasing the number of women who have been treated. These lessons will also help to improve future eye health projects to ensure they target women. More from Malawi
Television and radio adverts have been used to spread the message about a cataract camp that took place in the Moma district in north-east Mozambique. The adverts aimed to raise awareness about the causes, symptoms and treatment of cataracts and trachoma, and encourage the community to bring their families to be screened and treated. People with disabilities were particularly encouraged to attend – they are often excluded from campaigns such as this.
In the adverts, patients told their stories, explained how they felt before and after treatment, and how it has changed their lives. The ads contributed to the success of the camp, with 133 people having surgery for cataracts and 16 for trachoma.
The Nampula province in the north-east of the country is close to eliminating trachoma, but finding any remaining people with trachoma can be difficult as there are so few patients who still have the disease. To combat this, a house-to-house ‘sweeping’ campaign has been taking place, where health workers go door to door carrying out eye examinations and anyone found to have trachoma is brought to a clinic for treatment.
Announcements were made on television and radio to let people know about the campaign, and in total, 16 patients had surgery – significantly less than the 40 cases that staff had expected to find. This positive news means the country is now one step closer to eliminating trachoma for good. More from Mozambique
Patients from Madhya Pradesh in central India have been going back to work following cataract surgery. Sightsavers staff met them to hear their stories.
Kusum said her cataracts left her unable to carry out her daily tasks, including cleaning wheat and looking after her family – she wasn’t even able to recognise her relatives. But an operation restored her sight so she could return to daily life.
Sevaram is a wood cutter, but a year ago his vision began to deteriorate and he was forced to get someone to help him with his work, which meant his income was divided in two. After cataract surgery he is able to work alone, ensuring he is paid in full and can support his family.
Khemchand is a farmer who found work very difficult as his cataracts got worse, meaning his wife was forced to go to work to earn money for the family. He attended an eye outreach camp and was referred for surgery, enabling him to return to work. More from India