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, The Foundation:
- Performed 10,024 cataract operations and 3,826 other sight restoring or improving interventions
- Trained six surgeons, 15 clinic support staff and 814 community health workers
- Supported Ophthalmology Residency Training through the University of Health Sciences, which was successfully completed by four doctors
- Supported five ophthalmologists to travel to Nepal for training in small incision cataract surgery
- Constructed, upgraded or refurbished four eye health facilities
- Screened 99,344 people for eye health
- Delivered $1,975,304 in medical equipment
- Developed an innovative eye health education program for primary school children in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to address the causes of avoidable blindness, including training 1,708 school teachers and 89 trainers in eye health
- Established the first small incision cataract surgery course at the Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital
- Utlised major support from the Australian Government through the Avoidable Blindness Initiative.
About the Program
The Fred Hollows Foundation's activities in Cambodia cover eleven 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 continue to increase the number of ophthalmologists working in the public health sector from 19 to 39 by 2015
- Established the first and recognised Small Incision Cataract surgery course in Cambodia
- Trained and equipped eye care teams to perform cataract surgery and supported cataract screening, treatment and prevention
- Established an Information Centre at Siem Reap regional eye hospital
- Supported the Technical Working Group and the National Program for Eye Heath (NPEH) to develop national Guidelines for Surgical Eye camps and National Guideline for Treatment of Eye Conditions in Cambodia
- 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 in schools
- Supported the National Program for Eye Health to develop a 6 month curriculum for Refractionist Nurse Training in Cambodia
- 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||63.6 years|
|Adult Literacy rate||78%|
|Population living on $1.25 a day||23%|
|Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births)||43|
|Children (0-5 years) underweight for age||28%|
|Number of doctors (per 10,000 people)||2|
Sources: UNDP Human Development Report 2013
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