Male doctor using ophthalmic equipment to look at a young girl's eyes

See the Way: Improving access to eye health services in Malawi

Thousands of people in Malawi are living with avoidable blindness because they are unable to access sight-saving eye health services. Too often for people living in poverty, losing your sight also means losing the chance to go to school or earn a living.

Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in Malawi but only 45% of blind people who need cataract surgery have access to it. A shortage of trained eye health workers and lack of eye health services in district hospitals means that people in rural areas often have no access to diagnosis or treatment for eye problems. If they develop conditions such as cataracts they will need to travel long distances to a specialist hospital for treatment – meaning help is simply out of reach for people living in poverty.

Our 3-year project in Malawi will improve access to eye health services for people living in rural areas by training community health workers to identify eye problems and strengthening services at district hospitals – reducing the need to travel long distances for treatment.

Between 2021 and 2024, the project aims to:

  • Provide quality, inclusive and comprehensive eye health services for over 100,000 women, men and children.
  • Carry out quality cataract surgery for over 7,000 blind and severely visually impaired people – restoring their sight, reducing dependency on relatives and improving their livelihood opportunities.
  • Train over 1,400 eye health staff from 10 districts in Malawi, so more services can be delivered at district level without travelling to a specialist hospital.
  • Train 2 Ophthalmic Clinical Officers in cataract surgery.
  • Train over 1,500 community leaders and 32 community rehab workers to raise awareness about eye health in communities and identify people with cataracts.
  • Train Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) in community eye health and cataract case finding.

Sight-restoring treatments like cataract surgery can take just a few minutes but transform a life forever, not just for individuals but for entire families. Being able to see can mean the chance to go to school, to earn a living and support your family, to get around safely and live independently.

This project is funded by the UK government, through their UK Aid Match scheme.

In 2020, our generous supporters donated an amazing £1,320,921 to help people 

Uk aid logoin the world’s poorest places See the Way to a brighter future – and every pound was then doubled by the UK government. This match funding, combined with Gift Aid, takes our appeal total to an incredible £2.8 million. Match funding from the UK government will be used to deliver eye health services in rural Malawi. Public donations will support CBM’s work preventing blindness and transforming lives  wherever the need is greatest.


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