Traditional healers learn to detect eye disease

In Nepal, 379 traditional healers and other respected community members have been trained by a Foundation partner to identify blindness-causing eye conditions. 

In villages, locals often seek the advice of traditional healers to cure ailments including eye diseases. The healers use forms of non-medical treatment such as potions or prayer.

With The Foundation's support, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology has trained the healers, as well as teachers and community health workers how to detect common eye diseases that can lead to blindness without medical intervention. They were taught basic eye anatomy and learnt how to arrange transport to eye clinics for villagers needing surgery. They also learnt to raise awareness of upcoming eye screenings in their communities.

Because of lack of information about available medical services, people can be afraid of surgery. Thanks to their training, the healers, teachers and community health workers can now dispel myths about medical treatment and encourage people with eye conditions to seek help.

Besides the district of Makawanpur, those trained came from Dhading, Bhaktapur, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalcho.

Krishna Bahadur is someone who benefited from the training of a respected figure in his community. At the age of 11, Krishna's eye sight was deteriorating and impacting on his school performance in his home town of Tistung, in the Makawanpur district. The trained villager detected his eye condition. He was screened and subsequently referred to Tilganga where he was diagnosed with congenital cataracts in both eyes. Krishna was successfully operated on and both his eye sight and school results have improved significantly.

Professor Fred Hollows believed in training grassroots community health workers in countries around the world to detect eye disease - so that nobody would be denied basic care.

Tilganga was set up by Dr Sanduk Ruit, a close friend and colleague of the late Professor Fred Hollows. Dr Ruit, Nepal's first ophthalmologist, shared Fred's dream of restoring sight to the world's poor. Last year alone The Foundation supported training for 8,260 community health workers around the world.

Learn more about our Nepal Program.
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