Zambian patient Gladys has a cataract caused by trauma to the eye

The women fighting blindness in Zambia

January 2016

In 2015 we conducted a research initiative to investigate why fewer women than men were accessing cataract surgical treatment in the Northwest province.

The research indicated that two of the most challenging barriers for women to access care was their low decision-making autonomy and the high costs associated with travelling to district hospitals.

Women were also more likely to try home remedies and seek out traditional healers when they first experienced eye issues before accessing more formal health care services.

In 2016, more females (56%) than males (44%) accessed cataract services in response to these new proactive measures put in place.

We decided to respond proactively to these issues by teaming up with former women cataract patients who volunteered to be ambassadors.

In addition, Facilitated Film Screenings contributed significantly on community responsiveness around access to eye health. Having these “women ambassadors" speak to communities encourage and empowered other women to undergo services as well.

We began working with traditional leaders and community members directly to improve the knowledge and information shared by such influential people about cataract surgery.

We also worked to provide support for transportation by those who identified it as a major barrier.

Orbis Zambia continues to work closely with the communities we serve to better understand and overcome gender barriers to ensure access for all.

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