ORBIS: Eliminating blindness in Zambia
ORBIS has been working to develop child eye health services in Zambia since 2010. We have partnered with the Ministry of Health and Kitwe Central Hospital (KCH) to build capacity within the over burdened and under resourced healthcare system.
Zambia is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking at number 164 out of 182 on the United Nations Human Development Index.
The World Bank has classified the country as severely indebted, and an estimated 78% of its 13.5 million citizens live in poverty. It also has one of the highest rates of childhood blindness with nearly 10% of the continent’s blind children.
ORBIS, in partnership with Kitwe Central Hospital, has opened a Pediatric Eye Care Center within the eye department to provide specialized treatment and care for children with complex sight problems. This the only facility in the country that is appropriately equipped and staffed so while it has an official catchment area of 6 million people from the Copperbelt and surrounding provinces, it is has become a referral point for the whole country and beyond.
See how ORBIS changed Kefa's life
ORBIS support for comprehensive services for children in Zambia includes:
- Provision of consumerables, surgical and diagnostic equipment. For instance, ORBIS has installed a new anaesthetic machine to improve the safety of children’s surgeries and a vitrector to improve the quality of pediatric cataract operations.
- Capacity building and training of the child eye health team.
- Developing community outreach programs to ensure children in need are identified and given the best possible care as quickly as possible.
- In time, ORBIS will also work with referring hospitals to strengthen their capacity to identify problems and manage patients follow up care so that children do not have to continually travel great distances for their check ups.
Successes so far
In 2010, ORBIS sent Dr. Chileshe Mboni, the pediatric ophthalmologist at KCH’s Eye Unit, on a pediatric fellowship with Dr Lee Woodward at Kilimanjaro Medical College in Tanzania. Dr Woodward expressed high praise for Dr Mboni saying: “during his fellowship, [Dr Mboni] showed great aptitude for advanced pediatric surgical skills. He demonstrated sound clinical decision making and was highly motivated to learn new knowledge that will help him excel as a pediatric ophthalmologist. I have no doubt he will be a strong asset for pediatric ophthalmology in Zambia.”
ORBIS has also run various hospitals based training programs at the pediatric centre over the past 12 months focussing on pediatric cataract and strabismus surgery, ophthalmic nursing skills and biomedical engineering equipment maintenance.
The outreach team screen over 500 children each month in rural locations. The medical team operate on an average of 50 children a month – around half the cases are cataracts.
The Pediatric Eye Care Centre at Kitwe Central Hospital is proving to be a national asset and ORBIS looks forward to deepening our impact in the country to save the sight of many more children like George.
ORBIS Partners in Zambia
Kitwe Central Hospital, Zambian Ministry of Health, International Center for Eyecare Education (ICEE), Kilimajaro Center for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO).