Rohingya children in a refugee camp in Bangladesh wait to be screened

Delivering eye care to Rohingya people in Bangladesh

Since February 2018, Orbis has been screening and treating Rohingya people in South East Bangladesh as the first eye care organisation to establish services within the camps.

A young Rohingya boy has his eyes screened by an Orbis eye care worker

A young boy gets his eye screened by an Orbis eye care worker

Between February-April 2018, Orbis conducted nearly 5,000 screenings and 2,763 treatments, a treatment rate of more than 50%.

So far 159 cataract surgeries have been delivered – almost three times as many as expected. Most are severe cases as the majority of Rohingya people have never had access to eye care. Other treatment includes antibiotics for infection and the provision of glasses.

Rebecca Cronin

Chief Executive of Orbis UK

Orbis’ work in the camps shows that an already vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion is in need of more sup­port than we envis­aged. Low vision means they will be less able to look after them­selves and their depen­dants with flood­ing, cyclones and land­slides becom­ing real threats as mon­soon sea­son approach­es. Rel­a­tive­ly straight­for­ward inter­ven­tions such as surgery, antibi­otics and glass­es can trans­form the lives of Rohingya peo­ple, lead­ing to greater inde­pen­dence and self-suf­fi­cien­cy in the harsh envi­ron­ment of a refugee camp.

This project is funded by The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), which has supported our work in Bangladesh since 2015. The QFFD approached us with a request to develop a programme helping those struggling with vision loss within the relief camps and the local community.

Orbis is also working closely with Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital, NGOs and the local government to provide as much assistance to the Rohingya population as possible. The screening centre is located next to a food distribution point, to help with awareness of the service.

Rohingya people queue outside the Orbis screening centre in Bangladesh

Queues outside the Orbis screening centre

Alongside the medical treatment programme, Orbis is training 44 community leaders (Majhee, imams, school teachers and social workers) to conduct basic eye tests, spot eye conditions and refer people to the screening centre.

Orbis is collaborating with local partners to provide eye screenings to children within designated 'safe places' where children are encouraged to learn and play.

A Rohingya elder discusses his eye problems with an Orbis staff member at a screening in Bangladesh

An elder discusses his eye problems with an Orbis staff member

Orbis is also recording and capturing valuable data to help understand the people and the eye problems they are suffering from, whilst continuing to screen and treat as many Rohingya as possible.

This will enable Orbis and its partners to deliver better care to those in need.

Rebecca Cronin

Chief Executive of Orbis UK

Most of us are real­ly lucky to have ready access to eye care. The Rohingya peo­ple have expe­ri­enced ter­ri­ble suf­fer­ing and require exten­sive med­ical care, which has not been eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to them
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