More than 115,000 people in Zambia have received vision screening over the last three years as part of a Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) programme that was funded by Specsavers.
Since the development of the eye health programme in partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Health in 2004, VAO reports that “considerable” progress has been made in establishing eye health facilities and training ophthalmic personnel in the country. However, despite these efforts there are still just 16 qualified optometrists servicing a population of 16.2m people.
Since 2009, VAO has been working with Specsavers in a bid to develop a national eye care programme in Zambia that will offer a sustainable and affordable solution to avoidable vision impairment in the country.
Between 2014 –16, VAO reports that of the 115,000-plus people that have had their vision screened in rural clinics across Zambia, over 71,000 people have received spectacles. Furthermore, 115 ophthalmic clinical officers have been trained to provide eye tests and a vision centre has been established in all 10 provinces.
VAO country director, Karen Edwards, explained: “Before 2009, there weren’t many positions for optometrists to work in government services in Zambia. There was hardly any opportunity for continuing education or guidance in the further development of their profession. Most eye care services that were available were often privatised and expensive for most Zambians.
“Thanks to the generous support from Specsavers, VAO has already made a significant impact and contribution to the development of eye care services in Zambia and looks forward to continuing our work with Specsavers in the future to help eliminate avoidable vision impairment across Zambia.”