Celebrating World Sight Day 2017 - Making Vision Count

Posted on: Tuesday, 17th October, 2017
Procession led by dancers and banner reading Make Vision Count - Nigeria

It was a day of contrasts from the large-scale to the light-hearted. But all CBM activities on World Sight Day (12 October) had the same ideas behind them, to celebrate the gift of sight and to draw attention to the need to combat avoidable blindness across the world.

A message for Nigeria from the streets and airwaves

Colourful mascots led a “Walk for Sight” in Nigeria’s capital Abuja in West Africa. It was just the start of a day of energetic activities to prompt urgent action to prevent blindness, and reduce vision impairment particularly among infants. Banners with World Sight Day messages were held high as CBM staff, partners and stakeholders joined the procession with members of the public and press.

“The street walk created huge public awareness, impact and visibility for the World Eye Sight Day” says Dr Juliana Nathaniel, Programme Director for CBM's child eye health programme in Nigeria.

Child speaks at awareness event

Some 400 people attended the awareness lecture that followed, including pupils and staff from 15 schools, and members of the youth corp. Calls for good personal hygiene to stop childhood blindness, and for a Disability Act which would give equitable access to services for all, received widespread coverage.

No child should go blind from preventable causes

Every minute a child somewhere in the world goes blind. Avoidable blindness is most common among the world’s poorest communities where there is little access to quality eye treatment. This is the case in Nigeria where children who are blind or visually impaired also struggle to access education, get around safely or fulfil their potential.

“Various studies.. show that over 70% of blindness in children is avoidable and that 80% of the conditions are treatable. In Nigeria, knowledge about child eye health issues is low, and socio–cultural issues that contribute to increased prevalence of child blindness and visual impairment abound within the communities” says Dr Nathaniel.

Not just a day, but weeklong activism

Leading up to World Sight Day, CBM Nigeria joined radio and television discussions to convince decision makers and audiences across the country of the great need for quality child eye health services. The Federal Ministry of Health was visited to lobby for child eye health indicators to be embedded in the country’s National Development Plan.

Christian Blind Mission Sunday

CBM staff and volunteer with an information display in a church

On 15th October, the Sunday after World Sight Day, churches around the UK marked the first Christian Blind Mission Sunday, an opportunity for congregations to learn, pray and fundraise to help those who struggle to see in the world's poorest places. Over 90 churches signed up to take part, including through prayers, talks, coffee mornings, collections and other fundraising events. 

Celebrating with CBM and its supporters

The incredible contribution of CBM’s supporters to protecting and restoring sight in some of the world’s poorest communities was highlighted on World Sight Day.

CBM Australia’s CEO, Jane Edge, echoed the thoughts of many with her message in a special news edition saying

“Our work and impact is only possible because of you… This World Sight Day we’re celebrating what we’ve achieved together! We’re thankful that you choose to protect and restore sight.”

 “In 2016, over 6.5 million people were provided with preventative medications for eye diseases like Trachoma through CBM and our partners” she said.

CBM Canada highlighted “10 million sight-restoring operations since 1966.”

In Milan, CBM Italy launched the first of a series of books. “Blind. From the dark to light”, uses visionary images to raise public awareness of disability and, above all, of avoidable blindness.

Staff wearing CBM t-shirts and blindfolds play football

Finally, on a bright and sunny World Sight Day in Cambridge, some 20 CBM UK staff stepped out in scarlet kit to experience a “blind football” match. Some of the players movement off the ball can be seen briefly here . The final score is unknown but the team photo shows a good result all round.

Keep celebrating with this report of CBM work worldwide from CBM International


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