Rohingya children in a refugee camp in Bangladesh wait to be screened

Providing eye care to Rohingya people in Bangladesh

Since February we've been screening and treating Rohingya people in South East Bangladesh. As the first eye care organisation to establish services within the camps, we've been working with local partners to deliver 2,763 treatments in just two months.

A young Rohingya boy has his eyes screened by an Orbis eye care worker

A young boy gets his eye screened by an Orbis eye care worker

Between February-April 2018, Orbis conducted nearly 5,000 screenings and 2,763 treatments, 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.

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.

Rebecca Cronin

Chief Executive of Orbis UK

This project is funded by The Qatar Fund for Development, who have supported our work Bangladesh since 2015. More recently they approached us with a request to develop a programme to help those struggling with vision loss within the relief camps and the local community.

We're also 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 center is located next to a food distribution point, to help with awareness of the service.

Rohingya people queue outside the Orbis screening centre in Bangladesh

Queues outside the Orbis screening center

Alongside the medical treatment programme, we are training 44 community leaders; Majhee, Imams, school teachers and social workers, to conduct basic eye tests, spot eye conditions and refer people to the screening center.

We are collaborating with local partners to provide eye screenings to children within designated 'safe places' where children are encouraged to learn and play.

A Rohingya elder discusses his eye problems with an Orbis staff member at a screening in Bangladesh

An elder discusses his eye problems with an Orbis staff member

We are also recording and capturing valuable data to help understand the people and the eye problems they are suffering from whilst continuing to screen and treat as many Rohingya as possible.

This will enable us, and our partners, to deliver better care to those in need.

Most of us are really lucky to have ready access to eye care. The Rohingya people have experienced terrible suffering and require extensive medical care, which has not been easily accessible to them.

Rebecca Cronin

Chief Executive of Orbis UK