Women on the frontline of Eye Health – International Women’s Day

Grace is an Ophthalmic Clinical Officer working at a District Hospital in Southern Rwanda. © CBM/Hayduk.
Kirsty Smith.
Author:Kirsty Smith
Posted on: Tuesday, 5th March, 2019

Nearly two thirds of the world’s blind people are women. Too often, women’s health and wellbeing is still valued less than that of men, which means they are less likely to access sight-saving medical care. For example, a CBM programme in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, found that fewer women accessed cataract surgery because of their perceived lower economic status within the household, leaving them more likely to be needlessly blind.

International Women’s Day, coming up on 8th March, is a day to remember the continued gender imbalance in our world. You can read more about the particular issues facing women and girls with disabilities in our policy paper exploring gender and disability in the global South.

But it is also a day to celebrate the huge role that women around the world play in driving positive change. So today I’d like to introduce you to some fantastic women I met recently in Rwanda. They are devoting their lives to delivering high quality eye-health care and preventing avoidable blindness. 




Sarah, Ophthalmic Clinical Officer

Sarah, Ophthalmic Clinical Officer

“I’m an OCO at Kabgayi Eye hospital. Today we are here, we are doing screening. The outreach is being done here in Kigeme Health Centre, it is in Southern province of Rwanda. I like outreach because we meet many patients. We can help them here, near where they live.

The most difficult part of our job is when we meet cases later, for example for the cases of glaucoma that didn’t get treatment before. Even for patients to understand that they will not get their vision back. My favourite part is to help people, those who really need our help. For example if someone has lost the vision and we help them and they regain their vision it is very good it makes us happy and the patients also they feel, they are happy, it is very good for us.”

Eugenia, Nurse

Eugenia, Nurse“My name is Eugenia and I am a nurse here. I help patients with eye problems. The hospital always has lots of patients. A big problem for people with sight problems is poverty. They come from far away. Some cannot afford the bus to hospital. So they stay at home a long time, one, two, three years, without getting care.

They get worse, until they become more and more blind. If they have treatment it brings joy. Joy not just for the patient but for the whole family. The whole community can see that there are lots of patients who can see again.”

Beatrice, Optometrist

Beatrice, Optometrist“My name is Beatrice Dupuy. I am French.  I am an optometrist. I am working here in Rwanda for 3 years. Some patients have travelled for a long way and they come in this hospital. If they can’t see well it is difficult. “

“Children with low vision can have some problems at school. Parents sometimes they don’t want to send children with low vision at school. It can be hard to play and to join other children.”

“I love my job here and when I give some glasses or other magnifier to help them they are very happy. They can go to school and have a good job. Their life will be better.”

These are just a few of my eye health heroes around world – if you’d like to help us celebrate more women in eye health this International Women’s Day, please do share who your #EyeHealthHeroes are on Twitter or Facebook

With your help, we can train, support and equip more dedicated professionals like Eugenia, Beatrice and Sarah to provide sight-saving care in the world’s poorest communities. And until 15 May, every £1 you donate to our See The Way appeal will be doubled by the UK government.

UK Aid Match logoEvery day, people in the world’s poorest places become needlessly blind because of conditions that can be easily treated. Your gift today will help people with sight problems See the Way to a brighter future. Until 14th May 2019, the UK Government will double all public donations to our See the Way appeal up to £2 million. Public donations will support CBM’s work preventing blindness and transforming lives wherever the need is greatest. Match funding from the UK government will improve access to sight-saving eye-health services in Rwanda.

Find out more or donate at www.SeeTheWay.org

Main image: Grace is an Ophthalmic Clinical Officer working at a District Hospital in Southern Rwanda. © CBM/Hayduk.


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