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Identify children with refractive error or avoidable blindness conditions through eye screening camps and provide 3,250 spectacles to the children of Dhaka city and Jamalpur District.  The project was delivered at the Dhaka National Institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) and the Jamalpur District Hospital during 2012.

Screening and distributing spectacles:

The Fred Hollows Foundation Bangladesh organised screening camps at schools in Kafrul, Shere Bangla Nagar and Adabar. The visiting medical team consisted of an ophthalmologist, ophthalmic assistant and project manager.

They screened the eyes of 7,237 children from schools in these slum areas. Schools generously provided space for the screenings and some students volunteered to assist with logistical support. 1,750 out of 7,237 children were identified as having a refractive error. Each student with refractive error was given spectacles.

A further 6,200 children from a variety of NGO schools in these slum districts were screened by the medical team. 1,500 were identified with refractive error and once appropriate lens measurements were taken, spectacles were provided for all 1,500 children.

Photo: a Bangladeshi girl with her new glasses.

Training of Trainers workshops on Primary Eye Care :

A total of 13 Upzilla Health & Family Planning Officers plus one Medical Officer participated in a training program to upskill local eye health workers. The health worker’s role was to promote good eye health to the children and teach them to understand the importance taking care of their eyes.

An orientation on Primary Eye Care was held in Agargaon primary school, Dhaka, a disadvantaged school in the slum district. Four school teachers were trained as primary eye care workers and they subsequently provided Primary Eye Care training to 450 students.

Photo: A Teacher and Fred Hollows Foundation staff explaining eye health to a classroom of kids, Bangaldesh

Background on Eye health in Bangladesh

There are approximately 75 million children (0-18 yrs) in Bangladesh.  Refractive error is the major cause of childhood visual impairment in Bangladesh. It is a serious barrier for children’s development and directly results in a decrease in attendance at school.

Early detection and treatment of refractive error through glasses, contact lenses or surgery  is important to ensure a child’s normal development and permit enhanced performance of children.

Traditionally, the greatest majority of national eye care activities in Bangladesh are focused on the elderly. As a result, the vision testing, refraction and eye care services available for children in Bangladesh come a poor second. This leaves millions of children at risk of developing eye disease, of not having eye conditions detected, therefore not being treated and potentially suffering permanent loss of sight.

Case Study: Tania’s Story

Photo: Tania with her friends

Tania is the daughter of a poor farmer in Kushtia. At age 5, Tania developed a cataract in her right eye and by the age of 10, had bilateral cataracts. Because of her condition she could no longer attend school.

Tania’s family’s lack of financial resources deprived her of treatment and thus she gradually excluded herself from society.

After learning of Tania’s condition, The Fred Hollows Foundation brought Tania and her father to Kushtia district hospital for treatment. Though her family was reluctant to bring Tania to Dhaka for surgery The Foundation persisted and convinced them of the importance of treatment.

Tania can now see clearly. Tania’s confidence has been restored along with her vision. She has started to attend school and enjoy a normal, happy life with her friends again.

The future of this project

The Fred Hollows Foundation works in an ongoing partnership with the National Eye Care Program (NECP) and the National Institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) along with district and sub-district government health services in Bangladesh. All partners in Bangladesh are working to end avoidable blindness by the year 2020.

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