Improving access to eye health services for people with disabilities in Pakistan - new CBM study

Posted on: Friday, 1st July, 2016
Haseena, a wheelchair user , at an eye examination

A new CBM study from Pakistan, launched in London on 20th July, shows how eye health services can be made more accessible for people with all types of disability.

Around 1 in 7 of the world’s population live with some form of disability. Disabled people often find it difficult to access all types of health care, including eye health services. Without access to treatment for eye problems, they are at greater risk of becoming blind or visually impaired.

The new study evaluated a CBM pilot project to make eye health services more inclusive in Charsadda district, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, Pakistan. The project was set up in the aftermath of the 2010 floods, which caused significant damage to local hospitals and health centres. CBM and our local partner CHEF International ensured that the new District Hospital and four local health centres were made accessible to wheelchair users and people with other disabilities, and that staff were trained to work with disabled patients. Free transport was provided to the District hospital, which is the only provider of eye health services in the district, as getting to hospital is often difficult for people with disabilities.

The project also focussed on improving understanding of disability among community health workers, teachers and the wider community. In some areas, people with disabilities are considered to be cursed by God for sins committed by the family and are seen as a burden. Building more positive attitudes to disability means that families are more likely to seek treatment for disabled relatives.

The Pakistan project is one of several CBM Inclusive Eye Health pilot projects established since 2009 in Cambodia, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. CBM also produces an Inclusive Eye Health manual, a guide for eye health practitioners in developing countries to making eye health accessible to all.

Participants at the inclusive eye health launchThe launch of Inclusive Eye Health – Breaking down the barriers so all people benefit (Pakistan) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London included presentations by Dr. R. Pararajasegaram (Past President, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and Ex Consultant World Health Organisations Geneva), Dr Babar Qureshi (CBM), Kirsty Smith (CBM), Carrie Netting (UK Department for International Development), Peter Ackland (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) and was followed by a symposium on developing inclusive eye health at the primary and secondary level.

Images - Top: 17 year-old Haseena attends an eye examination – she told staff that she never believed a hospital visit could be so easy for someone with a disability. Bottom: participants in the launch and symposium.


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