Preventing avoidable blindness in Nepal
27 June, 2012
Patients wait to have their eye patches removed after surgery. Photo: Satish Sharma, Australian Embassy
AusAID recognises that treatment of avoidable blindness is an area in which the Australian NGO sector has considerable expertise, and that eye health is a critical development need in our region. In the 2008–09 Budget the Australian Government committed $45 million for the Avoidable Blindness Initiative to improve the quality of life for people with low vision and blindness in Asia and the Pacific.
In 2010, AusAID approached the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu and Australia’s Fred Hollows Foundation to support the delivery of eye care to those who need it most in Nepal. The project commenced in April 2011 and will run for three years.
In Nepal, cataract blindness accounts for 72 per cent of all cases of blindness (around 123,000 people), with 30,000 new cases each year. Other causes of blindness include glaucoma, corneal pathologies, trachoma, uncorrected refractive error and childhood blindness. Ninety per cent of blind people in Nepal live in rural areas, and women are more susceptible to blindness than men, representing 67 per cent of cases.
The health structure addressing eye issues in Nepal is a mix of government, non-government and private eye care services and systems, supplemented by periodic surgical eye camps and other outreach services.
The Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology works in collaboration with a range of government, non-government, academic and medical institutions in Nepal and internationally. With support from Australia, the Institute provides eye care services in rural districts and runs eye camps to screen people for future cataract surgeries. Advocacy and community education are an important part of the Institute’s activities.
Australia’s support for this partnership delivers high quality, affordable and cost-effective blindness prevention activities and eye health services for people in remote areas of Nepal.
Last Reviewed: 27 June, 2012