Since publishing our 2015 Report to Donors in June, we’ve been sharing highlights from each of the countries where we work. Our programs in India and Africa had a banner year, thanks to support from our generous donors. This week we’re excited to tell you more about the work our donors made possible in Zambia in 2015.
Operation Eyesight is the only INGO working in Zambia that is fighting blinding trachoma using the complete SAFE strategy, which is approved by the World Health Organization. With regard to the S component, Surgery to treat the painful late stage of the disease, we work closely with two hospitals and five trained eyelid surgeons from the Ministry of Health.
Under A, Antibiotics to halt infection, we undertook the second phase of a Mass Drug Administration in trachoma-endemic Sinazongwe district, resulting in coverage of over 80 percent of the population.
Facial cleanliness (F) is reinforced through ongoing health education. Frontline workers educate the community about the importance of face and hand washing at every water point. Schoolchildren who are taught to keep their faces clean later become our eye health ambassadors in their communities. We’ve noted a dramatic change in people’s attitudes to keeping their faces clean, and even small children who don’t yet attend school are seen drawing water to wash their faces by themselves.
Environmental sanitation (E) is also an ongoing health concern. We work with communities to foster clean surroundings, encouraging construction of refuse pits for household waste and pit latrines to eliminate open defecation. The goal is to encourage each household to have a latrine. All schools and health centres now have a minimum of six latrines.
We worked with communities and the local government authority to select sites for 20 water boreholes in 2015, and drilling is expected to begin later in 2016. In partnership with the local authority, we also rehabilitated 20 other dysfunctional boreholes (originally drilled by other organizations) to increase communities’ access to functioning water points.
In addition to our trachoma programs, we’re combatting a variety of eye health issues alongside our hospital partners. Patients from across Zambia are referred to the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, where we’ve established an ophthalmic centre to address the growing need for eye care services in the country. We also partner with the Sinazongwe District Health Management Board, which has a trained ophthalmic nurse based in Zambia’s Southern Province.
Thanks to our donors, we’re making long-term, sustainable differences in all of the countries where we work. With your continuous support, we will eliminate avoidable blindness once and for all. Thank you!