Bicycles help to deliver sight saving care in remote areas of Zambia

Almost 19,000 children have been screened since the start of the project

A bicycle is handed over to three community eye care champions by a woman in an orange dress and a black cardigan. All four stand outside on grass
Emmanuel Dube

Orbis is using two wheels to deliver sight saving eye care to those living in isolated parts of Zambia.  

Using 250 bicycles, the international non-profit is helping to bring eye care to residents in the Copperbelt Province of the southern African country.  

Over half of those living in Copperbelt Province are in a hard to reach location, Orbis said.  

The bikes have been donated to local community eye health champions in the Mpongwe District, allowing them to access remote villages that are often inaccessible to cars.  

Before being given their bikes, the community eye care champions received training in primary eye care.  

The new mode of transport is now allowing them to cover their individual catchment areas, reaching community members with awareness and screening services, creating demand for services, and allowing for referrals and patient follow-up. 

The project focuses on expanding sight saving services for children.  

Of the 2.5 million people who live in the region, 60% are living in poverty and 40% are under the age of 15.  

Almost 19,000 children have been screened and more than 580 surgeries were conducted during its first nine months, Orbis said.  

Around 670 front line workers were also trained during the first months of the project.  

Over 35 public film screenings and radio segments were also delivered, educating audiences on how to look after their own eye health and that of their children, and where to seek help if needed. 

One of the community eye care champions in Mpongwe District, Nchimunya Kalangwa, said that the initiative has amplified their ability to serve the community.  

“Previously, our efforts to support patients with eye conditions were constrained by transportation challenges,” Kalangwa said. “With the bicycles provided, we can now extend our reach to remote villages, ensuring more individuals access essential eye care services.” 

Mpongwe is the ninth district in Copperbelt Province to benefit from the bicycle initiative. 

The project is part of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, funded by the Qatar Fund for Development, and was launched in July last year.