Rwanda becomes first poor country to provide eye care for all

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Rwanda has become the first low-income country to provide universal eye care for its 12 million population.

The government has partnered with the organisation Vision for a Nation (VFAN) to train more than 3,000 eye care nurses based in 502 local health centres, prescribing glasses and referring those with serious eye problems to national clinics. Nurses have visited each of Rwanda’s 15,000 villages.

Dr Jennifer Yip, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained the vital importance of looking after people’s sight. “Without the resources to access eye care you are significantly more likely to become blind.

“We’ve found that 34% of the population in Rwanda could benefit from some form of eye care. This ranges from very minor symptoms [to] those requiring life-changing surgery.”

Short sightedness is the most common eye-related ailment in Rwanda, and more than 80% of eye conditions there are considered preventable. The country ranks 159th on the Human Development Index, and only 19.8% of the population have access to electricity.

Photo courtesy of Simone McCourtie.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health