Sightsavers and OneSight partner to serve The Gambia
Two global vision charities are joining forces to provide access to essential vision care in The Gambia. Sightsavers International and OneSight today announced a three-year partnership beginning in 2011 designed to reach 80,000 patients with sustainable vision care. The program aligns with The Gambia National Eye Care Programme which delivers primary, secondary and tertiary level eye care services to its population.
A Sightsavers study estimates that more than 354,000 people in The Gambia are affected by Refractive Error (blurred vision) and more than 163,000 need spectacles each year. The study cites several key reasons for the high number of untreated vision problems in this West African country: underfunding for eye care services, lack of trained health care professionals, the high cost of optical equipment and a general lack of awareness that poor eye sight can be improved with proper treatment.
The main goals of the partnership are:
1) To strengthen the existing primary eye care centres.
2) To establish two local optical workshops, including community screening for refractive errors and referrals to the secondary eye care units for further treatment.
3) To establish three self-screening vision centres in strategic locations in each of the five administrative regions in the country.
As part of the program, Sightsavers and OneSight will also provide training for two local optometrists and 12 optometric technicians to help serve The Gambia and surrounding region.
According to the World Health Organization, Uncorrected Refractive Error is the second leading cause of avoidable blindness. There are 45 million people in the world who are blind, yet 75 percent of blindness is preventable or curable.
“We are very proud to partner with one of the most important charities in the eye care world,” said Greg Hare, Executive Director of OneSight. “Combining Sightsavers’ knowledge and established presence in countries where it operates with OneSight’s commitment to improve vision for those in need will help The Gambian government provide sustainable refractive services”.