Large numbers of Rohingya people who have crossed into South East Bangladesh are suffering unnecessarily from avoidable blinding conditions such as cataract.
Since February, international eye care charity Orbis has been screening people within one of the camps. As the first eye care organisation to establish services within the camps, Orbis has worked with local partners to deliver 2,763 treatments in just two months. With nearly 5,000 screenings taking place during this time, this is a treatment rate of more than 50%.
So far 159 cataract surgeries have been delivered – almost three times as many as expected. Most are severe cases as the majority of Rohingya people have never had access to eye care. Other treatment includes antibiotics for infection and the provision of glasses.
Rebecca Cronin, Chief Executive of Orbis UK commented: “Our work in the camps has shown that an already vulnerable population are in need of more support than we envisaged. Low vision means they will be less able to look after themselves and their dependents with flooding, cyclones and landslides becoming real threats as monsoon season approaches.
“Relatively straightforward interventions such as surgery, antibiotics and glasses can transform the lives of Rohingya people, which will lead to greater independence and self-sufficiency within the harsh environment of a refugee camp.”
The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) asked Orbis to devise a programme to help those struggling with vision loss within the relief camps and the local community.
Orbis is working closely with Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital, NGOs, and the local government to provide as much assistance to the Rohingya population as possible. The screening centre is located next to a food distribution point, to help with awareness of the service.
Whilst screening and treatment continues, Orbis will be conducting comprehensive research to better understand the prevalence and incidence of blinding conditions amongst the camp populations. This will enable Orbis and its partners to scale up services.
This project is an extension of the existing partnership between Orbis and QFFD in Bangladesh: QFFD have committed $8 million to tackle child vision loss in India and Bangladesh through the Qatar Creating Vision initiative, coordinated by Orbis.
For more information please visit: http://www.orbis.org.uk
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