Sightsavers has called for greater awareness of and investment in eye health in Liberia and around the world to mark this year’s World Sight Day.
To join the world in commemorating the day and to show the importance of quality eye care, Sightsavers recently hosted community eye screening events in Bong County, Todee District, Montserrado County. Patients were then given sight-saving cataract surgeries and other minor sight restoration surgeries in Bong County.
Alex Bedell, Country Director of Sightsavers Liberia said: “The number of people in need of eye care around the world and in Liberia is increasing. Unless there is a strong, continued effort to improve eye health services many people will lose their vision unnecessarily.
“We are calling on all Liberians to love their eyes and get tested, and also for greater investment in eye health services. No one should experience unnecessary or preventable sight loss.”
Over half of global vision loss is preventable or treatable, but a lack of quality eye care services and awareness about good eye health means that many people don’t get the care they need.
In Liberia, more than 480,000 people are living with vision loss and around 21,000 people are blind. Despite progress in eye health in recent years, there is still a low level of cataract surgical coverage, one of the leading causes of blindness, and a shortage of eye health professionals. Much of the population also live in rural areas that often lack health services.
To tackle this, Sightsavers works with funding from Irish Aid and Dubai Cares in Liberia alongside the government and partners to identify and fill gaps in eye care, especially in remote areas. This is done by providing training, infrastructure and policy advice, and expertise on eye health. Programs are run in schools and in health centers across the country.
Sightsavers are currently supporting the Ministry of Health to develop a strategic ten-year eye health plan for the country. We are also calling for an increased annual budget allocation for eye care services and increased salaries for eye care staff.
Emmanuel Kanneh, Programme Officer for Sightsavers, says, “Access to quality
eye care has a hugely positive impact on all areas of people’s lives. It can increase people’s ability to learn and work, which can directly lead to reductions in poverty and hunger and improve well-being”.
“We need to make sure everyone, everywhere can access the eye health services they need. Every single one of us has a part to play in making it happen, from governments, to healthcare workers, to donors and supporters”.
This call is part of a World Sight Day campaign, #LoveYourEyes and ‘Everyone Counts’, which is organized by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).–Press release