Paediatric patient Enkhzul getting an eye examination, a light shone into her eyes

Community Outreach

We want to make sure everyone has access to quality eye care, no matter where they live. This is why, as well as strengthening and equipping local hospitals, we work at a community level - training and educating people about eye health to ensure even the most remote areas receive the best possible treatment.

Rural populations face a number of challenges; in addition to the majority of health services being located in urban areas, there are very few qualified doctors and nurses on hand. People in rural communities often have to travel hundreds of kilometres by poor transport networks - sacrificing a day or two's wages and incurring food, transport and accommodation costs.

And that's if they're lucky enough to have been diagnosed and referred in the first place.

Rural Referral Networks - From screening camps in the villages to hospitals in the cities

With our network of partners, we mentor, train and inspire local teams so they can save sight in their communities.

Orbis works with many different partners in the country to improve their capacity for long-term impact. Community outreach is more than organising screening camps - we also train our partners so that they can hold more screening camps on their own and refer cases picked up at screening camps for treatment.

Orbis trains hospital staff, community workers and front-line health workers on outreach camps: planning and organising, screening techniques, identification of eye diseases and referral of patient for diagnosis and treatment.

Orbis also sets up vision centres in rural areas to cater to poorer rural communities and these are supported by a partner hospital - a hospital in a large city nearby - and some vision centres are linked up for teleconsultation so that the ophthalmic personnel in the vision centre can consult ophthalmologist in the base hospital for complicated cases.

They will then refer cases needing surgery or more advanced treatments to the hospitals. This helps the rural poor save time and costs as they do not have to travel long distances to the city for a diagnosis.

But quality eye care isn’t just about treatment. We are committed to educating communities about eye health and work with local partners to communicate crucial information about hygiene and good eye care through radio broadcasts, film screenings and educational materials.

We work with local schools to teach children about the importance of getting help, hoping to break some of the stigma associated with seeking help from hospitals.

Empower local communities with information and access

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The Singing Tree is a wonderful storybook put together by our colleagues in South Africa to help school children learn about the importance of seeking help if their vision is poor. In 2018, we distributed the illustrated storybook The Singing Tree in Amharic to 5,000 school eye health clubs and children in Ethiopia for free, to encourage educators, parents and children to seek help when they identify vision problems.

This is just one example of the new and innovative ways we can help fight blindness with your help.

Click on the thumbnails below to read more.