Cataract is the main cause of blindness in Tanzania, which can be easily treated with the right equipment and expertise. Tanzania is critically short of both.
Tanzania is known across the world for its ecologically significant wildlife parks, such as the Serengeti, and for Mt Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak.
Perhaps less well known is that half the people living with blindness in Tanzania are blind with cataract – an eye condition that can be treated by a routine operation at little cost. Tanzania also has one of the highest burdens of trachoma in the world. However, Tanzania is lacking the human resources necessary to provide the eye care services needed.
With fewer than one ophthalmologist per million people in the country, a large proportion of the population remain with no access to eye care services at all.
In order to address this critical shortage, The Foundation began working in Tanzania in 2005, by supporting ophthalmologists to undergo training to increase their ability to manage eye care programs. In 2006, The Foundation began supporting screening and surgical outreach clinics, further developing local ophthalmologists' capacity to carry out cataract surgery.
Working together with our partners in Tanzania, The Foundation:
- Supplied $12,735 in medical equipment
- Supported surgical outreaches where student ophthalmologists received on-the-job training, performing 155 cataract surgeries.
About the program
The Foundation supports a surgical training program for ophthalmology students, which is implemented through Muhimbili University of Health Allied Sciences (MUHAS), the national training institute for ophthalmologists.
Students are provided with practical training opportunities to enhance their surgical skills by participating in outreach activities which bring high volumes of patients with a variety of eye health conditions.
The training also represents an opportunity to provide cataract services to people living outside the urban area of Dar Es Salaam, delivering accessible and affordable services to underprivileged and remote communities. Funding from The Foundation covers the cost of outreach clinic medical staff, surgical items (such as intraocular lenses) and consumables, as well as training running costs.
Since 2005, The Foundation has also been supporting a management course for eye care program managers and ophthalmologists from all over Africa, in conjunction with Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO). Over 50 eye care personnel have been trained in management so far.
Facts and figures
|Life expectancy||58.2 years|
|Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births)||50|
|Population living on $1.25 a day||68%|
|Children (0-5 years) underweight for age||16%|
|Number of doctors (per 10,000 people)||less and 0.5|
Sources: UNDP Human Development Report 2010 & 2011, UNICEF State of the World's Children Report 2012
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