Fighting blindness in Zambia | Orbis

Fighting blindness in Zambia

Orbis has been partnering with the Zambian Ministry of Health since 2010 to build capacity within the overburdened and under-resourced healthcare system. Orbis Zambia, a branch of Orbis International, was established in 2016 to help scale quality eye care across the county.

The Problem

Zambia has one of the lowest GDPs on the planet with three-quarters of its population living in poverty. At the time of writing, only 38 ophthalmologists are serving a population of 17 million people. Around 2% of adults, and nearly 1% of children, are currently living with blindness.

Zambia is in need of a robust health system to prevent and combat eye diseases. By building partnerships with local hospitals, Orbis has improved community awareness, increased surgical rates, and provided vital equipment to hospital and eye care centers.

Success in Zambia

In North-Western Province, Orbis works across all levels of eye health throughout the province’s eight districts, with a focus on increasing the cataract surgical rate and implementing trachoma control and prevention in areas with a prevalence above 10%.

Our partnership with Kitwe Central Hospital led to the opening of a pediatric eye care center to provide specialized treatment and services for children with complex sight problems. As the only facility in the country that is appropriately equipped and staffed for pediatric eye care, Kitwe Eye Annexe has become a referral point for the whole country and beyond.

The Human Resources for Eye Health (HReH) project at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka has shown significant success. The project focuses on building the institutional capacity of UTH to train high-quality eye health workers and ensure competent and highly skilled faculty, as well as strengthen the implementation and management of the residency program resulting in competent Ophthalmology graduates

Impact In 2021

Thanks to our supporters and partners, Orbis Zambia helped:

  • Increase the number of children accessing eye health services in the Copperbelt from 28,000 in 2018 to 100,000 in 2019
  • Build eye health services at every primary and district level in the Copperbelt
  • Support the training fellowship of the first female vitreo-retina surgeon in the country and set-up up a VR clinic at UTH Eye Hospital.
  • Increased the number of ophthalmologists from 17 in 2017, to 38 in 2022

In the last 11 years, Orbis Zambia has supported the establishment or improvement of:

  • One pediatric eye hospital
  • Two tertiary eye hospitals
  • One wet lab
  • 16 primary eye care units

What We're Doing Next

Building on Orbis Zambia's past success in strengthening the capabilities and resources of health systems, we will continue to identify gaps in eye care services to ensure treatment can be delivered to the people who need it most.

In North-Western Province, we are focusing on increasing the cataract surgical rate and implementing trachoma control and prevention. In the Copperbelt region, our team will focus on expanding child eye health programs from tertiary level to community, primary, and secondary levels of care in the ten districts.

With special thanks to the David and Molly Pyott Foundation Orbis will focus on addressing the lack of trained ophthalmologists, improving the quality of sub-specialty training opportunities, providing equipment and supplies for the detection and treatment of eye conditions, and enhancing community education around eye care.

Fifty-two residents from our hospital partners UTH-Eye Hospital, Kitwe, and Ndola will receive training, of which 29 are expected to graduate over the course of the project. Four doctors will receive sub-specialty training.

Over the coming three years, we will leverage our award-winning online mentorship platform, Cybersight, to support and supplement residency education, hospital-based training, workshops, and fellowships.

Training will be provided for residents, practicing ophthalmologists, nurses, clinical officers, biomedical engineers as well as primary care practitioners, and community health workers from tertiary hospitals to community health centers.

You can help Orbis improve the quality of eye care available throughout Zambia, by donating below.


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A big thank you to all our partners, striving to improve eye care across Zambia. A special mention must go to:

  • Kitwe Teaching Eye Hospital
  • Ndola Teaching Hospital
  • Solwezi General Hospital
  • Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital
  • University Teaching Hospitals, Eye Hospital
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