LONDON, November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Sight-saving charity, Orbis UK, today launches 'Vision for Zambia', an appeal to tackle avoidable childhood blindness. Until 3rd February 2016, the UK government will be doubling public donations, enabling Orbis to reach twice as many children.
Zambian children are four times more likely to suffer from blinding conditions, such as cataract, than those residing in developed countries and 90% of blind children do not attend school.
With the right access to treatment, half of paediatric vision loss can be avoided or cured. However, access is scarce and the country has few ophthalmologists; 15 vs 3,000 here in the UK, and only one paediatric ophthalmologist.
With 78% of the Zambian population living in poverty, parents are often forced to choose between making a long trip to seek treatment for their child, or food for their families. Expanding eye health services in rural communities will establish options closer to home.
Vision for Zambia aims to raise £500,000, matched to £1 million to:
- Train 750 healthcare professionals to screen children in rural areas and administer basic treatments
- Pilot the use of mobile technology, speeding up the diagnosis and referral of patients in rural areas
- Conduct community film screenings. This new approach educates communities about eye health and encourages discussion to help reduce the fear and stigma of seeking help for their children. Traditional Healers will be invited to take part as they often play a significant role in their community's healthcare
Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening says: "With more than 6,000 blind children across the country, Zambia has one of the highest rates of childhood blindness in the world. That is made worse by a serious shortage of trained eye care specialists and the fact that the majority of those children are in isolated rural areas where no help is available.
"Losing their sight robs children of the chance for an education, employment and ultimately an independent future. By matching pound for pound all public donations to the appeal, we can double the difference Orbis is making in restoring sight and preventing blindness in the first place."
Rebecca Cronin, Orbis UK CEO says: "This is a fantastic opportunity to reach thousands of children in Zambia desperately in need of sight-saving treatments.
"Knowledge of eye disease can also be low in rural areas and conventional treatment is not always trusted, so there is a need to improve perceptions. Sixty per cent of children will die within two years of becoming blind so there is an urgent need for help."
The UK public can get involved by visiting: http://www.visionforzambia.org, and signing up to find out more about the appeal. For every sign-up, a generous Orbis supporter has pledged £1 which will be doubled to £2 by the UK government.
SOURCE Orbis UK