DONATE
Sightsavers Reports

“When you see how a child’s life improves, it’s really something”

Your donations are helping to train eye health professionals such as Dr Priscilla Mhango, so more people are able to have the surgery they desperately need.

Priscilla Mhango (31), an Opthalamic Resident at Lions Sight First Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. She is currently under training supported by Sightsavers.

Nobody should go blind from avoidable causes, but in many countries where Sightsavers works there are a severe lack of trained eye health professionals. Unless eye health services improve, the number of people who are blind worldwide could triple to 115 million by 2050.

In Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, it is thought that 200,000 people have visual impairments, and around 5,000 children in Malawi are blind because of cataracts. This condition, often thought only to affect older people, is a major cause of blindness in Malawi, across all ages. If you have cataracts, the world can look dim, blurred and distorted, as if you’re looking through a dirty glass.

With timely intervention, it is likely that many people could have been treated with a straightforward operation.

Dr. Priscilla Mhango is passionate about the difference surgery can make to someone with cataracts. Following four years of intensive training, Priscilla recently graduated as a general ophthalmologist and is now qualified to perform sight-saving surgeries.

Priscilla was inspired to pursue this training as she saw the impact that eye conditions had on members of her own family. Initially, she covered the cost with her savings but as these became depleted, she feared that she would have to return home and put her ambition on hold.

But thanks to sponsorship from Sightsavers, Priscilla was able to complete her training. This would not have been possible without incredible supporters like you.

A busy operating theatre in Malawi.

“I think the lack of human resources is one of the reasons why we can’t reach more people.”

A busy operating theatre in Malawi.
Dr Mhango, ophthalmologist

Priscilla’s huge workload shows just how much her skills are needed. Yet currently, there are fewer than 12 trainees in Malawi, when there should be at least 70 or 80. “I think the lack of human resources is one of the reasons why we can’t reach more people,” says Priscilla. “It would be nice if maybe we got three of four trainees a year and then at least we’d have continuity.”

In addition to the limited number of staff, Priscilla is concerned about the reliance on traditional medicine in the community where she works, which can make eye conditions, such as cataracts, harder to treat. Despite these challenges, Priscilla sees that progress is being made. She explains: “When you treat a child who was bumping into things or who couldn’t go to school because of their poor vision and you see how their life improves, it’s really something.”

In 2021, Sightsavers helped to train more than 3,200 eye health workers and 500 community volunteers. And we couldn’t have done this without you.

See what the world looks like when you have cataracts

Try our cataract simulator

More stories from Focus magazine

Zuhara from Tanzania stands outside her primary school
Sightsavers Reports

Eliminating trachoma in Tanzania

With your support, we're determined to eliminate trachoma in Tanzania by 2020, saving sight and transforming lives.

A patient in a surgical gown and cap, with a visible cataract in his left eye.

Coordinated Approach to Community Health (CATCH)

This programme, which finished in 2019, ensured that patients at trachoma camps who were diagnosed with another eye condition were given treatment.

Blue Peter's Sight Savers appeal.
sightsavers_news

60 years of Blue Peter: the show that gave Sightsavers its name

As Blue Peter celebrates its 60th birthday, we look back to the programme’s Sight Saver appeal in 1986, which raised money for our mobile eye units in Africa.

October 2018

Your gift will change lives

I would like to make a donation to Sightsavers:

could provide a school with a universal braille kit so they can teach braille and basic mathematics

could pay for a short course in Primary Eye Care for 10 health workers

support our work to create a more disability-inclusive society

$
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is $3
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over $15,000

could provide a braille book to support the learning of a child with a visual impairment

could pay for a course in inclusive education for a classroom teacher

could provide a whole year's inclusive education for one pupil

$
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is $3
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over $15,000