Over 90% of blindness in Cambodia is avoidable – most of it the result of cataracts – but a large number of Cambodians live in poverty and struggle to afford the relatively simple and inexpensive cataract operation they need to have their sight restored.
Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975. Within weeks of taking power, they had forcibly relocated the population of Phnom Penh and other urban areas into the countryside of Cambodia.
Over the next three years, three million people died from starvation, disease and execution. The national infrastructure of Cambodia was dismantled, currency was abolished and the country was renamed Democratic Kampuchea.
Peace was not completely restored until 1993 when democratic elections were held and the Kingdom of Cambodia was proclaimed again, with a system of constitutional monarchy. By this time, however, the country's economy was shattered and its people scarred.
The Foundation has worked in Cambodia since 1998 and in this time our programs have made a significant impact at national, provincial and community levels. One way we're doing this is by working to train more mid-level eye-care personnel and ophthalmologists.
The Foundation's programs currently service about half of the Cambodian population.
Working together with our local partners in Cambodia, The Foundation:
- Performed 5,787 cataract operations and 1,969 other sight restoring or improving interventions
- Opened Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital near Angkor Wat, built with Foundation and AusAID funding – servicing a population of three million
- Delivered $578,495 in medical equipment
- Helped five eye surgeons graduate from the Ophthalmology Residency Training Program, established and supported by The Foundation
- Trained 453 community health workers
- Screened 34,763 Cambodians
- Provided $US11,000 in disaster relief after seven out of 10 provinces The Foundation works in were affected by heavy flooding
- Major support from the Australia Government through the Avoidable Blindness Initiative.
About the Program
The Fred Hollows Foundation's activities in Cambodia cover seven provinces and reach all levels of the public health system.
Our program works to ensure equal access to high quality and affordable eye care services for all people in Cambodia, and strategies are in place to reach remote and underserved communities through activities such as outreach mobile eye camps. We also support a surgical subsidy for the poorest people to gain access to eye care treatment.
Together with our partners, The Foundation has:
- established the first Ophthalmology Residency Training Program in Cambodia, which will increase the number of ophthalmologists working in the public health sector from 9 to 18 by 2012
- made concerted efforts to address uncorrected refractive error by training refraction nurses, establishing refraction services at all program provincial eye units and by facilitating refraction screening and the provision of glasses in remote areas and at schools
- supported the delivery of a National Refraction Training Program, which will increase the number of qualified refractionists working in the public health sector from 19 to 40 by the end of 2012
- trained and equipped eye care teams to perform cataract surgery and supported cataract screening, treatment and prevention
- continued to support local training programs for eye care personnel
- developed and installed an electronic Health Management System at the National Eye Hospital and selected provincial eye units to assist in the monitoring of progress against the National Strategic Plan.
In 2010 the program received major funding support from the Australian Government through the Avoidable Blindness Initiative.
Facts and figures
|Prevalence of blindness in people aged 50 years and over||2.8|
|Percentage of blindness considered to be avoidable||90.2|
|Main causes of blindness||cataract (74.7%)|
|Number of ophthalmologists||19|
|Reasons for low cataract surgical rates and backlog||lack of access to eye care services, cost of surgery, shortage of human resources, poor infrastructure and limited awareness|
|Life expectancy||62.2 years|
|Adult Literacy rate||77%|
|Population living on $1.25 a day||25.8%|
|Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births)||69|
|Population that is undernourished||25%|
|Number of doctors (per 10,000 people)||2|
Sources: Human Development Report 2007, UNDP World Health Organization, UNDP Human Development Report 2010
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