The magnitude of the blindness problem in Africa is overwhelming. The need is huge.
Besides the many challenges of poverty, there are simply not enough eye doctors to go around. Only about one in ten people blinded by cataract ever receives surgery.There is a desperate need for effective programs to train local people to provide eye care to their own communities.
Reducing blindness in Africa faces several challenges due to the shortage of trained personnel, lack of eye care systems, an aging population and barriers to access to care. The overall goal of Seva's work in Tanzania is to create an African model of training that will prepare eye health workers not only to provide quality care but also to address these obstacles.
In Tanzania, Madagascar, Malawi and Burundi, Seva programs focus on strengthening community ophthalmology (eye care in the community by the community for the community), implemented by our local partner, the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO).
Since its inception in 2001, KCCO has helped many hospitals in Africa double or triple the number of people who have received sight-restoring surgery. The demand for training has grown so that doctors and other eye care professionals have come to KCCO from countries across the continent, Ghana to Eritrea to Madagascar.
What Seva donors have accomplished in Tanzania in 2012-2013:
Services provided: (Mara Region)
Mara Region added an innovative community engagement activity that involved established microfinance groups. Microfinance members were trained to identify people with eye problems which facilitated more than a thousand people, particularly women and girls, to utilize available eye care services.
To learn more about Gifts of Sight for eastern Africa click here.
Originally envisioned to serve eastern Africa, the demand for training has grown so that doctors and other eye care professionals have come from countries across the continent, Ghana to Eritrea to Madagascar, as well as those closer to Tanzania. Some of the programmes assisted by KCCO have seen two and three-fold increases in eye care services being provided.
Dr. Paul Courtright and his wife Dr. Susan Lewallen, founders and the co-directors of KCCO won the prestigious International Blindness Prevention Award in 2008 from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
The AAO is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, with more than 27,000 members worldwide. The International Blindness Prevention Award, established in 1992, honours “individuals who have made significant contributions to the prevention of blindness or restoration of sight.
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