International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March celebrates transgender people and raises awareness about the work that still needs to be done to ensure that all transgender people are treated equally.
As part of Sightsavers’ Right to Health inclusive eye project, which ran from 2018 to 2021, we supported transgender communities in Pakistan and Bangladesh to access eye care services. The project aimed to reach marginalised communities that have traditionally been unable to access services due to discrimination or barriers such as low income.
To reach these people, Sightsavers implemented outreach work to build trust with the communities. This was essential as many transgender people shared stories of not being treated fairly when using health care services, which caused many to neglect their health.
“Transgender people do not go to hospitals, either government or private hospitals, because people make fun of them,” said Rabi, the president of the transgender community in Quetta, Pakistan.
Once a relationship was established with the communities, Sightsavers held eye camps where transgender people could access inclusive health care services without facing discrimination.
Watch the video below to see our work in action at an eye camp in Pakistan.
Funded by the UK government through UK Aid Match, the programme focused on restoring and protecting sight, and ensuring that health services are accessible for people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.More about the project
Patients who attended the camps were able to have their eyes examined and receive treatment. As cost is often a barrier to health care for marginalised communities, all medicines were provided free of charge. Education also played an important role in helping patients understand how to prevent future eye problems and how to seek help.
In Pakistan, the camps for the transgender community also offered patients the opportunity to have their blood sugar level tested, their blood and eye pressure checked, and to receive their free COVID-19 vaccine.
Inclusion training for health care workers was another key element of the Right to Health project. After attending eye camps, patients were often referred to local hospitals for treatment, so it was essential that everyone attending felt welcome. The training not only focused on inclusion but also raised awareness about the needs of patients with disabilities.