Children from slums given chance of better life

Children from a slum community in Bangladesh have been screened for vision problems, with 242 receiving much-needed spectacles.

The 979 children from Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka were screened as part of the Foundation-funded Childhood Blindness Prevention Program.  

A large number of children in the slum are living with disabling eye conditions like short- and long-sightedness, blurred vision and infection.

Often, these eye problems can be solved with simple treatment or a pair of spectacles. Without this kind of help in early life, these children can struggle at school and home, missing out on life opportunities.

Throughout 2012, approximately 7,000 school-aged children in the districts of Dhaka,

Brahmanbaria and Jamalpur will be screened in an effort to reach them while they are still young, and when blindness prevention interventions are most successful.

By helping these children see, we help them to help themselves, to help their families. We give them the chance of a better life.

Door knocking, banners and public microphone announcements help raise local awareness of upcoming screenings in an attempt to reach children who are not attending school.

The screenings are being conducted by an eye team from the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital (NIO & H), with organisational help from The Foundation’s staff in Bangladesh.

Ophthalmologist Dr Mashrekha is working with eye health nurses and medical assistants to examine the children. Dr Mashrekha has received specialised paediatric eye care training at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal, a long-time partner of The Foundation.

Children with vision problems are referred to the NIO & H for a more thorough check up and are treated or prescribed spectacles as needed. The cost of these spectacles is subsidised with funding from The Foundation.

While figures vary greatly, a 2006 United Nations UN-HABITAT report estimates that up to 80 per cent of the population of Bangladesh’s larger cities live in overcrowded slums.

The lack of electricity, tap water, garbage collection, and the need to share water sources and latrines with large numbers of other households contribute greatly to poor general health. 

Through our program work in Bangladesh in 2010, The Foundation screened 52,745 people, performed 3,087 cataract operations, and 12,492 other eyesight interventions, trained 483 community health workers, 19 nurses and clinic support staff, and 2 ophthalmologists, and provided $159,755 in equipment and infrastructure.
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