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Sightsavers from the field

June update: highlights from around the world

June 2021
An eye health worker wearing a mask shines a light into a woman's eyes to check for signs of trachoma. Another eye health worker stands nearby.

Malawi

Two health centres in Lilongwe checked for accessibility

An accessibility audit has taken place at Kabudula and Mitundu community health centres in Lilongwe city to ensure they are accessible for people with disabilities.

During the audit, teams surveyed the facilities and took measurements and photos of any inaccessible areas. They also spoke to hospital staff and visitors with disabilities. Both health centres were found to be less than 40% accessible, with steps, ramps, circulation spaces, toilets and signage failing to meet accessibility standards. There were also no parking bays for people with disabilities, and no sign language for deaf patients.

The audit team’s report recommended several steps to improve accessibility, including installing clear directional signs, building accessible toilets and renovating the steps and ramps.

The audit was part of Sightsavers’ inclusive eye health project in Malawi, funded by UK Aid Match. The project will support some of the improvements, with the remaining renovations funded by the government of Malawi. More from Malawi

A man uses a tape measure to measure the depth of a step.
During the audit, the team checked areas such as steps and ramps.
© Sightsavers/Naomie Msungeni

Ethiopia

Trachoma surveys resume as conflict subsides

Surveys to check the prevalence of trachoma in Ethiopia have restarted after a six-month gap caused by unrest in the north of the country.

In November 2020, surveys in the area were put on hold when conflict began between the federal government and the Tigray administration. This led to blocked roads and communications channels being disrupted.

But in mid-May, a risk assessment showed the security situation had improved, enabling the surveys to resume in five areas in the north-west part of Afar. The surveys were completed in June as part of the pioneering Tropical Data initiative.

Sightsavers carries out health and security risk assessments in all countries to ensure the safety of staff and partners, which must be signed off before any work can take place. The risk assessments also consider whether robust risk mitigation plans are in place. More from Ethiopia

An eye health worker wearing a mask checks a boy's eyes.
Surveys have now resumed in the Afar region to check people’s eyes for signs of trachoma. © Amref

Global

Inclusive Futures disability training reaches milestone

Jobseekers with disabilities have completed 10,000 training modules as part of the Inclusive Futures initiative, which aims to empower people with disabilities so they can earn a living.

More than 570 people with disabilities have now been trained to help them to compete in the jobs market. Training modules on offer include topics such as career planning, using social media professionally and business entrepreneurship.

The 10,000th training module was completed by 35-year-old Subrata from Bangladesh, who struggled to find work after his daughter was born. “I completed a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in pharmacy, but the sector is not suitable for a disabled person in Bangladesh because they cannot understand that I can work in the industry,” he explained. “I can do that job, but they do not give me any opportunity to prove that I can.

“They reject me because they see my physical disability: my right hand and right leg. But my left hand and left leg are OK. I can do everything. This type of training can help all people, but it is more essential for a disabled person because it is very difficult to get a job.”

Subrata wearing a blue t-shirt and working on a computer.
Subrata took part in Inclusive Futures training after struggling to find work in the pharmaceuticals industry. © YPSA/Newaz Mahmud

Burkina Faso

Case finders enable more people to be checked for trachoma

For the first time, case finders have taken over from ophthalmic nurses to screen people for trachoma in Burkina Faso. This enables screening to take place in a wider geographic area, allowing more people to be checked for signs of the disease.

Two case finders were recruited for each village in Seguénega and Ouahigouya districts: in total, 280 case finders in 31 health centres were trained to go house to house to check the eyes of everyone aged 15 and over. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, all case finders wore masks and used sanitising hand gel, and refrained from touching patients during the screening. Instead they used a torch to check people’s eyes.

The screening programme is part of the Accelerate project to eliminate trachoma in at least eight countries. More from Burkina Faso

An eye health worker checks the eyes of a woman sitting on a low wall in a dusty setting.
The case finders have been trained to go house to house to check people’s eyes for trachoma. © Sightsavers/Emile Rayaisse

India

Sightsavers wins social impact award for its urban eye health work

Sightsavers’ urban eye health programme in Bihar has been recognised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, winning the ICC Social Impact Award in the large project category.

The programme aims to integrate eye health into urban public health systems in Patna, to ensure that eye health services are available to lower-income families among the 2.4 million urban population.

Sightsavers India area director Sudipta Mohanty said: “We are delighted to be recognised for our work. The programme has contributed to the good health and wellbeing of a significant population of the state of Bihar and will address more urban populations in the days to come.” More from India

A man wearing a suit presents a plaque and trophy to another man.
Sightsavers received the award for its eye health work in Bihar.

More from the field

Four patients wait while socially distancing for their trauchoma surgery while wearing PPE and face masks.
Sightsavers from the field

Eye care and COVID-19: what we’ve learned during the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to restart our work quickly and safely. Sightsavers staff reveal our how eye care programmes have evolved in the past 18 months.

October 2021
Safia has her eyes examined by a health worker to check for signs of trachoma.
Sightsavers from the field

Seeing clearly: five sight-saving stories in Benin

The Accelerate programme, supported by Sightsavers, aims to stop people going blind from trachoma. In Benin, five patients reveal how the programme has changed their lives.

September 2021
A group of young children playing on a climbing frame outside a school
Sightsavers from the field

Education, not discrimination: Malawi’s inclusive pre-schools

An inclusive education project in Malawi is challenging stigma and changing lives by enabling young children with disabilities to attend pre-school alongside their peers.

September 2021