Citizens for Justice and Peace

Rwanda becomes first low-income nation to provide universal eye care

01, Feb 2018 | CJP Team

According to the Guardian, “Rwanda has become the first low-income country to provide universal eye care for its 12 million population.” Rwanda’s government has tied up with Vision For a Nation (VFAN) “to train more than 3,000 eye care nurses” in 502 local healthcare centres; they prescribe spectacles, and refer patients with serious eye conditions to national clinics. Nurses have also travelled to all of the 15,000 villages in the country. “We’ve found that 34% of the population in Rwanda could benefit from some form of eye care,” Dr. Jennifer Yip of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the Guardian. Dr. Graeme Mackenzie a consultant to VFAN, explained to the Guardian about how neglected eye ailments, especially for women, result in families getting mired in poverty. Mackenzie said “coffee bean sorting” was a major occupation, typically employing women, whose eyesight begins to suffer around age 45. “Their quality of work suffers and therefore their income suffers,” Mackenzie said, adding, “Now, the breadwinner is no longer earning enough. The young girls in the family are pulled out of school so they can work in agriculture to help. They do not finish their education and the whole cycle of poverty is just reinforced.” Rwanda’s health minister, Diane Gashumba, noted that Rwanda is “leading in Africa by providing all its people with affordable eye care.” Worldwide, 253 million people have impaired vision. 



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