Salome is having her bandage removed and smiling

See the Way: Improving access to quality, inclusive eye health in rural Rwanda

A shocking 47,000 people in Rwanda are estimated to be blind or visually impaired. Cataract and refractive errors are the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment (78%); yet both are treatable conditions.

A lack of eye health services available in Rwanda means that people often have to travel great distances to get treatment, especially if they live in rural areas. A CBM study in 2017 identified that district hospitals in Rwanda were only able to treat 42% of patients with eye health conditions, mostly due to a shortage of trained staff and equipment. As a result, many people become needlessly blind – and can stay blind for decades – simply because they can’t afford the bus fare to a specialist hospital that can treat them.  Too often for people living in poverty, losing your sight also means losing the chance to go to school or earn a living.

Our 3-year project in Rwanda is working to improve access to eye health services in four districts, so that people do not have to travel across the country for treatment.   

We aim to improve access to eye health for 400,000 men, women and children by:

  • Training ophthalmologists and other eye health workers, including theatre nurses, ophthalmic clinical officers and equipment maintenance officers.
  • Providing equipment to fill gaps at each target hospital, ensuring that they have functioning operating theatres to treat blinding conditions like cataract and glaucoma and can prescribe and dispense glasses effectively.
  • Funding quarterly visits by specialist teams from our partner Kabgayi Eye Unit to target hospitals to provide ongoing training for eye health teams and perform surgeries and specialist services
  • Making target hospitals more accessible and inclusive for people with visual impairments and other types of disabilities, e.g. training staff in inclusion, sign language and safeguarding, and ensuring facilities are physically accessible. Local Disabled People’s Organisations will be involved to monitor the success of these measures.

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

A Union Jack (the United Kingdom's flag) with the words UKaid from the British people written belowBetween February and May 2019, our generous supporters donated an amazing £845,000 to help people in 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 £1.8 million. Match funding from the UK government will be used to deliver eye health services in rural Rwanda. Public donations will support CBM’s work preventing blindness and transforming lives wherever the need is greatest.



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