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January update: highlights from around the world

January 2021
A group of surgeons wearing PPE perform eye surgery.


Sightsavers helps to improve government accessibility

Sightsavers Pakistan has been working with the country’s government to carry out an audit of parliament and national assembly buildings, in an effort to make them as accessible as possible for people with disabilities.

The audit outlined several shortcomings and offered practical recommendations to improve the existing infrastructure and increase public awareness about the importance of accessibility.

Sightsavers is also helping to produce braille copies of the country’s constitution, as well as making the national assembly website more accessible for people with visual impairments. More from Pakistan

A man in a wheelchair reaches up to a sink to turn on the tap.
Kamran Khan from the accessibility audit team checks the wash basin and tap accessibility in Pakistan's Parliament House.


Inclusive eye health project continues to change lives

A Sightsavers programme in Morogoro province is ensuring eye care services reach those in need by spreading the word among local communities.

District authorities use loudspeakers to advertise their eye care services, as well as raising awareness among local religious leaders, teachers and schools.

Amina (pictured below), who is 67 years old, is one of the latest patients to have her sight restored. She is a traditional healer, but her eyesight started to deteriorate and she was unable to continue working. Eventually, she went blind.

Then one of her students heard about eye specialists visiting the local hospital. Amina went to have her eyes checked, was diagnosed with cataracts and had surgery the following day. “From now on, I will refer all who are coming to me with eye problems to the hospital for proper eye treatment,” she said.

The eye camp services are provided by Sightsavers under the Inclusive Eye Health (Boresha Macho) project, funded by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). More from Tanzania

Amina smiles as she covers one of her eyes with her hand.
After her cataract operation Amina was able to see clearly, enabling her to return to work as a traditional healer.

Burkina Faso

National NTD programme recruits its first case finders

Burkina Faso’s neglected tropical disease programme has been running since 2011, with ophthalmic nurses originally overseeing the screening process for trachoma and lymphatic filariasis in two health regions.

Now the programme has started using case finders, who travel to local communities to find people who have signs of the diseases. The case finders are able to target specific geographic areas, as well as reach more women.

The case finders’ work has been made easier by giving them images of trachoma cases from the USAID Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) project, which helps them to identify symptoms of trachoma, as well as raising awareness among local communities.

The work is part of the Accelerate trachoma elimination programme.
More from Burkina Faso

Lines of people in Burkina Faso wait to have their eyes checked.
The first case finders in Burkina Faso have been screening people in local communities to look for signs of eye disease.

Côte d’Ivoire

COVID-19 precautions ahead of trachoma surgery

In Korhogo in the north of the country, five patients have had surgery to treat trachoma, with staff ensuring they took precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Patients and staff wore masks, washed their hands and had their temperature taken to ensure no one had any symptoms of the virus.

The work is funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, National Philanthropic Trust, The ELMA Foundation and Virgin Unite. More from Côte d’Ivoire

A man washes his hands while wearing a mask, while in the background people wear masks and one has his temperature taken.
Hand-washing, masks and having temperatures taken helped to control the spread of COVID-19.


Success for Sightsavers-supported inclusion programme

January 1 marked the first anniversary of Ghana’s Somubi Dwumadie (‘Participation Programme’), a four-year disability inclusion project that aims to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities.

As well as helping Ghana fulfil its commitments made at the Global Disability Summit in 2018, the programme has distributed 900 easy-read leaflets about COVID-19 aimed at people with disabilities.

It has also helped the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) to develop a tool to monitor the accessibility of national elections, and has supported the mental health authority to audit its psychiatric units.

Several media personalities have been trained to increase their understanding about disability inclusion in the response to COVID-19, as well as to help reduce stigma about disability and mental health in Ghana.

The programme is funded by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and run by a consortium of five partners, including Sightsavers. More from Ghana

Read about our work around the world

Where we work

More stories from the field

Angeshita smiles broadly.
Sightsavers stories

“I’m a living testimony of cataract surgery”

When Angeshita regained her independence after her eye operation, so did her family. They are now able to return to school and work, giving them all hope for the future.

An eye health doctor wearing a smart white shirt and sunglasses.
Sightsavers stories

Alinafe cuts the queues

Learn about one man's mission to make a difference in Malawi by training as an eye health specialist.

A female community drug distributor measures a girl to see how much medication she needs to protect her from trachoma.
Sightsavers stories

“Our programme has transformed communities”

Now in its sixth year, the Accelerate programme has already delivered 53 million treatments to protect people from trachoma, and managed 91,000 advanced cases of the disease.

Learn about our work to save sight