Rwanda becomes first country in Africa to provide Universal Eye-Care

Rwanda has successfully provided universal eye care to all of its 12 million citizens, through a partnership between the government and the organization Vision for a Nation (VFAN).

Specialist nurses in Rwanda have visited about 15,000 villages as part of a life-changing project. More than 3,000 eye care nurses based in 502 local health centres have been trained by the government and VFAN, prescribing glasses and referring those with serious eye problems to national clinics. This goes in line with Rwanda’s VISION 2020 initiative, signed in 2002, which aimes to eliminate preventable blindness.

Untreated sight conditions, especially in rural areas, trap families in a cycle of poverty. These populations represent the majority of workers in the coffee bean sorting industry, which is a major source of income for Rwanda. It is thus an important issue to tacle, and a major step toward preventing blindness.

According to Dr Jennifer Yip, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “34% of the population in Rwanda could benefit from some form of eye care. This ranges from very minor symptoms [to] those requiring life-changing surgery.”

An eye care clinic in Rwanda
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Over the past five years, Vision for a Nation has supported Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to establish a nationwide eye care service that is accessible to all Rwandans. Photograph: Sarah Day Smith/VFAN

Rwanda’s minister of health, Diane Gashumba, said: “Rwanda is leading the way in Africa by providing all its people with affordable eye care. This has been made possible by the great collaboration between the government of Rwanda and Vision for a Nation. The impact of this initiative has been enormous.”

Source: The Guardian

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Author: Gova-Media