Liberia: Sightsavers Restores Sight To Mark World Sight Day
MONROVIA – Sightsavers have called for greater awareness 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 hosted community eye screening events in Bong County, Todee District, Montserrado County.
Patients were given sight-saving cataract surgeries and other minor sight restoration surgeries in Bong County.
The Country Director of Sightsavers Liberia Alex Bedell said: “The number of people in need of eye care around the world and Liberia is increasing.”
According to Bedell, unless there is a strong, continued effort to improve eye health services many people will lose their vision unnecessarily.
He said: “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”.
During the awareness, Bedell noted that over half of global vision loss is preventable or treatable, but the lack of quality eye care services and awareness about good eye health calls for the need that many people do not get the care they need.
In Liberia, more than 480 thousand 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, accordingly, also live in rural areas that often lack health services.
To tackle this, Becell maintained that 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 health centers across the country,” Bedell said.
Sightsavers is currently supporting the Ministry of Health to develop a strategic ten-year eye health plan for the country.
Becell then emphasized the need for an increased annual budget allocation for eye care services and increased salaries for eye care staff.
For his part, the Programme Officer of Sightsavers Emmanuel Kanneh said access to quality eye care has a hugely positive impact on all areas of people’s lives.
Kanneh noted thatt such process 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,” Kanneh maintained.
This, according to Kanneh, 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).