A young South African child with retinoblastoma, wearing a multicoloured hat

South Africa

South Africa is home to an enormous blind population and has a severe shortage of ophthalmologists to adequately serve them. In all of South Africa, there are only 324 ophthalmologists, most of who work in built up cities. Countrywide, there are only a few fully qualified paediatric ophthalmologists.

Success in South Africa

To combat the lack of available eye care, we established an office in Cape Town to develop specialised services for children's eye health and to lead the way for a sustainable, comprehensive model for paediatric eye care that is accessible, high quality and affordable. We’ve also partnered with South Africa’s Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to survey one million households within the poorest communities and explore the link between poverty and vision loss.

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In 2011, we supported the opening of a state-of-the-art paediatric eye care centre in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest and most populous provinces and home to 28% of the country’s blind children. This centre makes KwaZulu-Natal only the second province to have a child-focused eye care facility in the country.

As part of our work, we’re also initiating an extensive public awareness campaign in the mainstream and community press, highlighting childhood blindness and steps the public can take to against avoidable blindness.

Through the power of film, Orbis Africa hopes to break down barriers to vital medical intervention that could prevent childhood blindness.

WHAT WE’RE DOING NEXT

We are developing specialised services for children's eye health, focusing on early intervention of children under the age of six, while their sight is still developing. We’re also working to speed up the detection of eye health problems in young children and fast-tracking their treatment and follow-up care.

We’ve partnered with the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Cape Town, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and other thought leaders to develop a specialist paediatric fellowship program for African doctors.

Partners

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