ORBIS: Saving sight in South Africa
ORBIS established an office in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 to manage programs in Southern Africa. The focus of the office is to develop specialized services for children's eye health within the region and lead the way for a sustainable, comprehensive model for pediatric eye care that is accessible, high quality and affordable.
Specialized Services for Children
ORBIS opened a state of the art Pediatric Eye Care Center in Durban, South Africa in 2011. This is the capital of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), one of the poorest and most populous provinces and home to 28% of the country’s blind children. Many of its 3.5 million children live rurally in poverty with limited access to specialized medical services.
The center is the result of a partnership with the KZN Department of Health to strengthen their capacity to provide high quality eye care to children. The Pediatric Eye Care Center is housed within the government’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), making it only the second province to have a child focused eye care facility in the country.
Focus is on early intervention of children under the age of six, while their sight is still developing. An overarching aim is to drastically speed up the detection of eye health problems in young children, fast track their treatment and manage their long term follow up care, to ensure the best possible visual outcomes.
- Created a state of the art dedicated facility for diagnosis and medical intervention of complex children’s eye problems
- Refurbished the space provided in IALCH to make it child-friendly
- Procured necessary equipment and consumerables
- Proved and will continue to roll out extensive training and development to the entire child healthcare team
- Trained healthcare professionals within secondary and community healthcare to detect early signs of eye health problems
- Initiated vision screenings for all newborn babies at their post-natal examinations
- Worked to develop outreach services to raise awareness amongst the community to ensure that the new services are fully utilized
Find out more about the innovative Pediatric Eye Care Centers.
War on Poverty
ORBIS has partnered with the South Africa Government’s Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on their War on Poverty research initiative. The national survey canvases one million households within the poorest communities in the country. Included within the survey are questions exploring the link between poverty and vision loss. The findings will be used to improve service delivery to the country’s poorest communities and map appropriate interventions.
Developing a training center for African doctors
ORBIS has partnered with the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Cape Town, the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital and other thought leaders to develop a specialist pediatric fellowship program for African doctors. It is believed that there are only 12 fully qualified pediatric ophthalmologists on the continent, while Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of childhood blindness. Africa has distinct challenges and a unique case mix of children’s eye problems therefore it is essential that ophthalmologists are empowered with the skills to provide quality services in their environments.
Advocacy and Public Awareness
Finally, ORBIS will be initiating an extensive public awareness campaign in the main stream and community press highlighting childhood blindness and steps the public can take to avoid unnecessarily blindness.
Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology. KwaZulu Natal Department of Health, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, International Center for Eyecare Education (ICEE), IAPB, KwaZulu Natal Cataract Coalition, South African Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform.