Mildith wears a pink top and a face mask to protect her from COVID-19

New Support from the David & Molly Pyott Foundation to Strengthen Eye Care in Zambia

The David and Molly Pyott Foundation is generously donating $4 million to transform eye health across Zambia. Over the coming three years, our long-term partnership will focus on capacity-building and the delivery of high-quality care across the country.

The second phase of the project is set to begin immediately and comes after the completion of a successful first phase. Between 2019 and 2021, the David and Molly Pyott Foundation invested $2 million in the first phase, which bolstered the residency training program at our partner University Teaching Hospital (UTH)-Eye Hospital. Four new, and now practicing, ophthalmologists graduated directly as a result of this project and 11 more received best-in-class training.

Orbis supported a one-year fellowship for Dr. Ziporrah Phiri, who was already providing high-quality care to those who needed it and is now providing leadership and mentorship to the next generation of ophthalmologists at UTH.

As part of strengthening the residency program at UTH, Orbis established a post-graduate resource center, which includes a wet lab where residents can hone their surgical skills in a risk-free environment.

Dr. Phiri now mentors the next generation of ophthalmologists in Zambia.

The first phase also ensured the provision of critical equipment and supplies, including PPE, along with raising awareness of the importance of eye health, reaching vulnerable communities and sharing best practices to improve national eye health policies.

David and Molly Pyott

Restor­ing sight trans­forms lives. Teach­ing and edu­cat­ing oph­thal­mol­o­gists is one of the major fund­ing goals of our foun­da­tion because enhanced skills for oph­thal­mol­o­gists and eye health work­ers enables endur­ing capac­i­ty for improved eye care. We’re proud to sup­port Orbis’s impor­tant work in Zam­bia. The Orbis team accom­plished a great deal in the first three years of this project, and we look for­ward to sup­port­ing them as they expand their impact even fur­ther in the years ahead.”

The State of Eye Health in Zambia

In Zambia, there are as many as 678,000 people who have visual impairment or are blind, within a population of almost 17 million. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by blindness.

Most of the major causes of blindness in Zambia—cataract (53.2%), glaucoma (19.0%), trachoma (5.7%), refractive errors (15.3%), corneal opacity (3.6%) and retinal disorders including diabetic eye diseases (3.2%)—are entirely treatable or preventable.

Meanwhile the country faces a critical shortage of eye health workers, with only 33 ophthalmologists and 186 other eye health professionals—most of whom are clustered within a few regional provinces.

The Zambia eye health sector has made great strides over the last decade. These have included infrastructure development, country-wide equipment procurement and improvements in service delivery.

However, significant barriers to quality eye care continue to exist and have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transforming Zambia Eye Health in 2022 and Onwards

With the continued support of the Pyotts, we are set to reinforce and build on the progress already made in the past three years.

Between 2022 and 2024, their $4 million investment will focus on addressing the lack of trained ophthalmologists, improving the quality of sub-specialty training opportunities, providing equipment and supplies for detection and treatment of eye conditions, and enhancing community education around eye care.

Fifty-two residents from our hospital partners UTH-Eye Hospital, Kitwe and Ndola will receive training, of which 29 are expected to graduate over the course of the project. Four doctors will receive sub-specialty training.

Over the coming three years, we will leverage our award-winning online mentorship platform, Cybersight, to support and supplement residency education, hospital-based training, workshops and fellowships.

Training will be provided for residents, practicing ophthalmologists, nurses, clinical officers, biomedical engineers as well as primary care practitioners and community health workers from tertiary hospitals to community health centers.

Through the next phase of the project, we will help raise awareness and increase demand for eye health through community mobilization alongside our partners.

Zambian patient Gladys has a cataract caused by trauma to the eye

Gladys, a young Zambian girl suffering from cataracts, got her eyes screened and treated at an Orbis-funded hospital.

A Heartfelt Thank You

The David and Molly Pyott Foundation is a private U.S.-based charitable foundation dedicated to achieving three major goals: teaching and educating ophthalmologists worldwide to provide better eye care, improving care for disabled individuals and enabling youth to secure employment.

We would like to say an enormous thank you to the Pyotts for their unwavering generosity and support. Through our continued partnership, we can provide access to quality eye care for families across Zambia.

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