Burundi is a strikingly beautiful country, with soaring mountains and stunning lakes, and is home to some of the world’s best coffee. However, decades of instability have taken a toll on the country’s development.
A brief introduction to Burundi
After 12 years of civil war Burundi has been left with many scars. The country’s dense population mostly lives in rural areas that have limited access to medical and eye health services. In fact, the population is so jam-packed there are 312 people per square kilometre, the second highest population density in sub-Saharan Africa.
While Burundi’s economic growth is improving, it’s still one of the world’s poorest countries. Ongoing instability means there’s a knock-on effect on the development of the country and improving the lives of its people.
What are the eye health problems?
According to a blindness survey in the north region of Burundi, 62.5% of blindness is avoidable and cataract is the primary cause of blindness. Due to eye health services not being a part of the national health system, many people living in poverty don’t have access to basic eye health screenings and treatment.
The lack of national services means the private sector has begun to boom, with small optical units popping up all over the country. While it’s a positive thing that optical eye care services have become readily available, these are still mostly only accessible by those who can afford it. This sadly means that many people remain blind who don’t need to be.
The Foundation’s programs in Burundi
We’re currently working in the four most remote provinces of Burundi: Cankuzco, Ruyigi, Rutana and Makamba. The Foundation is trialling a new project with the private sector and our partners to deliver eye screenings and cataract surgeries for people in these underserved areas.
We’re making significant progress
Thanks to some great work with our partners, we achieved a lot in 2014:
Research, training and technology
- Supported 19 eye camps across Ngozi and Kayanza provinces
- Screened 16,346 people
- Supported 281 to receive sight restoring cataract operations
- Supported 32 other sight saving or improving interventions
- Trained two eye health workers to improve eye care for people living in remote regions of the country