UK Sight Charity Breakthrough in Delivering Eye Care
Rwanda’s 11.8m people can now receive sight-restoring treatment thanks to a pioneering programme by UK charity Vision for a Nation and Rwanda's Ministry of Health. Already more than 2.4m people have used the new service, which is helping them to realise their full potential. Over 3,000 nurses have been trained through a fast-track course to provide sight tests, glasses and eye treatment at 502 local health centres nationwide. A huge accomplishment in this east-central African nation, which has a GDP per capita of $718.
Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Minister of Health and a paediatrician by training, said: “Rwanda is leading the way in Africa by providing all its people with affordable eye care. This has been made possible by the great collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and Vision for a Nation, and an innovative approach to integrate local eye care services into our health system. The impact of this initiative has been enormous.”
Veneranda is one of 176,000 people to receive glasses: “These glasses will help me a lot, and I will greatly benefit from having improved vision; all my days my life will be different.”
The health centre-based service has been built into Rwanda’s health system to ensure that affordable eye care remains available long into the future. Over 1.2m have received medication for eye infections or allergies and 237,000 have been referred for specialist eye care at hospitals.
Furthermore, Vision for a Nation has supported health centre nurses to visit each of Rwanda’s 15,000 villages over the past 27 months as part of a one-off campaign. This has given some of Rwanda’s poorest people living in remote regions access to vital eye treatment – 85% of the population live in rural areas that previously lacked eye care provision.
Tony Hulton, Vision for a Nation’s Chief Executive, said: “Rwanda is the first low-income nation in the world to provide all its people with access to affordable eye care. Our work with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health provides a blueprint for other nations to follow. We hope to replicate our success in Rwanda with the launch of an ambitious national programme in Ghana during 2018.”