Over 140,000 Zambians afflicted by blindness

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 10:06:20 +0000

Over 140,000 people in Zambia are suffering from unnecessary blindness, says a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Orbis Africa. Orbis Africa country representative Lucia Ladaf made the disclosure in Luanshya yesterday during the commemoration of World Sight Day where she said that children were almost approximately four times likely to suffer from blindness despite the fact that half of all childhood blindness was either avoidable or treatable.

Ms Lucia said her organisation was expanding its operations on the Copperbelt Province to all the 10 provinces to increase the uptake of quality pediatric eye health services and follow up-care within the district health system. She said the project was to build the capacity of key health care personnel at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and strengthen referral system to deliver quality eye service.

She further said that it was the organisation’s vision to offer support at district level in line with the government policy to ensure that health services were available to all and contribute to areas of the national eye health strategic plan (NEHSP).

And speaking at the same event, Luanshya district medical officer Dr Patrick Mulenga said the Ministry of Health was educating the local community through awareness in all matters relating to eye diseases and ensured that demand for services and quality was maintained. Meanwhile, Luanshya mayor Nathan Chanda said prevention of blindness would reduce poverty levels in Zambia. Officiating at the same event, Mr. Chanda cited that blindness was closely related to poverty, hence if not fought Zambia would not realise efforts placed in reduction of poverty.

He said the magnitude of the problem and its effects on communities was known, therefore, it called for strong joined commitment to elimination of blindness. “And this is also why the Zambian government is a signatory to Vision 2020, a global initiative that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. 50 percent of blindness is curable and avoidable, but if no interventions are put in place, the situation will escalate and continue to negatively affect people. “That is why it makes me happy to note that the Ministry of Health is implementing activities to tackle avoidable blindness and ensure that treatment is available through the work supported by Orbis Africa,” he said.

Mr. Chanda emphasised that awareness work should start at community level by engaging community structures and parents so that children were treated to avoid them going blind at a young age. He implored all parents and guardians in the district to seize the opportunity as the services were free to have less blindness in children. He has since appealed to the Copperbelt residents to turn up in large numbers for eye screening and treatment.

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