The increase follows decades of campaigning by Sightsavers, local non-governmental organisations and eye health professionals, who called on the Minister of Health to allocate more funds to eye care.
The money will be used to expand the country’s eye care facilities, improve performance at government-funded hospitals and monitor patients more effectively following their treatment. An operational plan, complete with eye care targets and a breakdown of activities, has been developed and approved by the Ministry of Health.
Visual impairment and avoidable blindness are considered to be two of the main public health problems in Bangladesh. More than a million people in Bangladesh are blind, with 80 per cent of cases caused by cataracts, and more than 6 million people, including 1.3 million children, suffer from uncorrected refractive error. Yet both conditions can be treated.
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As a young child, Arif had a low-cost cataract operation through Sightsavers. It changed his life, enabling him to study and thrive at school, and later to leave home and find a job.