By addressing avoidable visual impairments, the programme, which was funded by the UK government through UK Aid Match, aimed to reduce poverty and contribute to achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals.
People living with disabilities in Bangladesh and Pakistan experience profound challenges. Disability exacerbates poverty for the whole family because of increased expenses, lack of income (due to caring responsibilities) and reduced opportunities (due to social exclusion). In Bangladesh, for each person an estimated 10.1 years of health is lost as a result of disability; in Pakistan, this is 9.6 years (source: WHO and World Bank World Report on Disability). This is particularly acute for women and girls with disabilities, as they face additional challenges because of gender inequality.
This can be addressed through appropriately targeted health services and the development of approaches which include disability and gender considerations. The Right to Health programme aimed to contribute to building a society where all people can access services, and where lessons learned can affect other health areas, in line with the UK Department for International Development’s disability framework.
Services were targeted to reach some of the most neglected and hardest-to-reach populations who were unlikely to benefit from standard health care services. The project was delivered in partnership with local partner eye care hospitals and ministries of health at national and district levels. To reach the most marginalised groups, the programme ran inclusive eye health screening camps, and targeted outreach was developed in collaboration with local disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), community-based organisations and self-help groups.
The programme ran in Rangpur, Rajshahi and Dhaka divisions in Bangladesh, and Baluchistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces in Pakistan.
Shamima, who has hearing and speech impairments, was able to access vital treatment after her sister heard about Sightsavers’ free eye camps.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Right to Health project worked with transgender communities to remove the barriers they face when accessing inclusive eye health services.
Father and grandfather Sardar from Pakistan is the main breadwinner for his family. But his children and grandchildren faced an uncertain future when he began to develop cataracts.
The transgender community often experiences discrimination and can find it hard to access healthcare. Meet some of the people who benefited from a Sightsavers eye health screening aimed at marginalised groups.
In February 2020, Sightsavers' Kirsty Bridger visited Bangladesh to learn how we organise our eye screening camps.
Yousub has come up against decades-long hardships, but with with a sight-saving cataract operation, life is finally looking better. Here, he shares his remarkable story.