A 62-year-old woman from Lilongwe has hailed a three-year eye health initiative for restoring her sight, saying a successful surgery to remove cataracts in her eyes has helped her gain back her independence.
Lezinat could not cook or fetch water and firewood, and relied on her family for support. She felt she had no hope of regaining her sight until her granddaughter heard that Sightsavers was doing local eye screenings as part of the inclusive eye health project.
Lezinat was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes, but successful surgery has helped her gain back her independence. She has expressed gratitude that eye health support was brought closer to the area, and her family is happy to see her walk and live independently:
“We will now have some time to attend to other house chores, unlike before when we had to constantly be around Lezinat for support. She will now be able to do some tasks alone,” she said.
With an aim to restore, save and protect sight across rural and high-poverty areas in the South-West Region of Malawi, the three-year inclusive eye health project began in 2020 and has so far helped over 2,500 people access basic eye health. It particularly focuses on cataracts, the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, and reaching people with disabilities, communities in hard-to-reach areas, and women and girls, who traditionally face barriers accessing health care.
These initiatives will continue throughout the project, providing access to health services including eye examinations and cataract surgeries for even more people.
In Malawi, 1.7 million people were estimated to have vision impairment in 2020, but the Sightsavers project is proving that inclusive eye health for everyone, regardless of gender, age, disability, location, or economic situation, is possible.
Bright Chiwaula who is the Country Director Malawi at Sightsavers said most people will experience eye health issues in their lives but only half the world’s population can access the health services they need.
“Good health and wellbeing is a fundamental human right and access to eye care can create a positive ripple effect, helping children to learn, adults to earn, and reducing poverty and hunger,” he said.
As the project continues, Sightsavers is working in partnership with the government to ensure sustainability of eye health services and prioritisation of eye care in national health plans far into the future.
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 low- and middle-income countries to end avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, and promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. Sightsavers vision is of a world where no one is blind from avoidable causes and people with disabilities participate equally in society.
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