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November 4 2015
Eye care charity Orbis UK has today (4 November) launched an appeal to help the prevention of childhood blindness in Zambia.
The three-month campaign will raise funds to allow the charity to expand its work in the southern African country, which has one of the highest rates of childhood blindness globally.
Backed by the UK government, all donations made by members of the public from now until 3 February will be doubled as part of a UK Aid Match scheme. The campaign aims to raise £500,000, which will be matched to £1m.
Since entering Zambia four years ago, Orbis has been working in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Health to establish a centre for paediatric eye care. Based in Kitwe Central Hospital, the Kitwe Eye Annexe is the first of its kind in the country, and over the last three years has carried out surgeries on around 1,000 children with cataracts and other complex eye conditions.
The money raised will enable Orbis to begin phase two of its programme, which includes the training of 750 healthcare professionals who will be able to screen children in rural areas for eye conditions and administer basic treatments; piloting the use of mobile technology to speed up the diagnosis and referral of patients in rural areas; and conducting community film screenings.
The films aim to educate people about eye health and encourage discussion within the community to help reduce the fear and stigma of seeking help for their children.
CEO of Orbis, Rebecca Cronin, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to reach thousands of children in Zambia desperately in need of sight-saving treatments. Here in the UK, eye diseases like cataract are thankfully rare in babies and children. In Zambia, however, childhood cataract is far more common and the country has one of the highest rates of childhood blindness in the world, with very limited access to eye care."
Ms Cronin added: “With the UK government’s Aid Match scheme, this appeal really will have twice the impact, giving twice as many children the opportunity to go to school and provide them with a future full of possibilities.”
For more information, visit www.visionforzambia.org