Heroes of Orbis: Charles Chikwanda

Charles Chikwanda was trained in eye care thanks to generous Orbis supporters who raised money for Vision for Zambia. Since his training, a community clinic was established at the local hospital—now patients can access sight-saving treatment when they need it most, without having to travel long distances.

Chililabombwe is a busy mining town in Zambia’s Copperbelt region, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here, we met Charles Chikwanda, who was selected by Orbis to be trained as an ophthalmic clinical officer. For the people of Chililabombwe, this was a crucial intervention.

Charles Chikwanda is running an eye clinic and fighting COVID-19 in his community

Charles Chikwanda is dedicated to saving sight in his community

Until recently, there was no eye clinic in the local area—but, thanks to an Orbis-funded program, the first eye clinic was established at the Kakoso First Level Hospital, where Charles works. Now, he helps run the eye clinic, bringing sight-saving treatment and a brighter future to the lives of many people in his community.

Charles Chikwanda, Opthalmic Clinical Officer

We need­ed to cre­ate a bridge for our patients to access eye health ser­vices, to bring ser­vices clos­er to them, to their com­mu­ni­ty, so they may just walk in with­out spend­ing anything.

Before the eye clinic was set up, people often had to travel to neighbouring districts for even the simplest eye care procedures—a journey many simply could not afford. Charles tells us: “It was hurtful seeing people going blind because of things we could prevent, if we had the skills and the knowledge.”

Slideshow: Charles has been going above and beyond during the pandemic to continue treating patients in the eye clinic

In 2016 Orbis supporters raised over $1 million which was matched by the UK Government. Work began on improving access to eye care at all levels, from community action to health system strengthening. Thanks to your support, thousands of men and women, boys and girls, have been able to access the eye care they needed.

And in 2017, the Orbis Zambia office was established to consolidate our efforts, ensuring we can keep working effectively with our local partners – and train more eye heroes, like Charles.

Charles Chikwanda, Opthalmic Clinical Officer

The train­ing I received from Orbis, one of the sub­jects was to do with infec­tion pre­ven­tion, and it real­ly ben­e­fit­ted us. Most of the prin­ci­ples are the same, and we’re using the same prin­ci­ples when fight­ing coro­n­avirus, so the train­ing has actu­al­ly pre­pared us for the pan­dem­ic. So, we have ben­e­fit­ted even as we fight this pan­dem­ic from that same train­ing that we received under Orbis.

Fighting Covid-19 With Orbis Training

Infection control is also one of Charles’s areas of expertise, thanks to his Orbis training. Over the past year, this knowledge has proven invaluable.

He’s been able to apply his skills to help keep COVID-19 at bay, by putting in safety measures, educating others in his community on good hygiene, carrying out testing and supporting patients to get the care they need.

Charles Chikwanda, Opthalmic Clinical Officer

I’m proud of what I’m doing – I’m very proud. Sav­ing lives is what we love. If this is our war, we are try­ing by all means to make sure that we fight to save our fam­i­lies and the com­mu­ni­ty. We have to be proud of what we’re doing… Coro­n­avirus does not choose who to infect, it can infect anyone.

We would like to say a big thank you to Charles for going above and beyond to deliver eye care to those who need it most—and for playing his part in the fight against COVID-19!

And we would also like to thank you – our supporters – your generosity and shared belief in our mission is helping to save sight all over the world, every day.

Orbis in Zambia

Since 2010, Orbis has been working in partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Health to improve access to healthcare and train local health workers across Zambia.

And in 2017, Orbis International: Zambia was set up to coordinate our in-country programs—from tackling trachoma, to improving cataract surgery, we are making great strides in overcoming some of the leading causes of avoidable blindness.

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