ORBIS, in partnership with Kitwe Central Hospital, officially opened a Paediatric Eye Care Centre in Kitwe. This centre marks the first of 10 Paediatric Eye Care Centres that ORBIS has committed to opening in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 10 years. It is the only facility in the country equipped and staffed to manage childhood blindness.
Kitwe is the second largest city in Zambia and it’s hospital services some 3.5million children from the northern part of the country, however as it is the only specialist paediatric eye centre in the country it attracts patients nationwide even as far as Angola and Congo. Paediatric cataract, glaucoma, retinoblastoma and uncorrected refractive error are among the leading causes of blindness.
Early intervention and follow up
Consultant ophthalmologist and ORBIS Trustee, Larry Benjamin was on hand to cut the red ribbon along with local dignitaries and hospital officials. In his dedication speech he emphasized the importance of early detection and long term follow up care to ensure the best outcomes for children: ‘Children’s eyes are significantly different from those of adults and there is a window of opportunity when their sight can be restored so that they can go on to live a normal, independent life.’
The Kitwe Paediatric Eye Care Centre provides comprehensive services to children in Zambia, where the majority of the population live rurally and struggle to access services due to cost, distance and lack of awareness of eye health. The community outreach team finds cases and, post surgery, there is a follow up with the child to ensure the best possible longterm visual outcome.
Dr Chileshe Mboni – Kitwe’s paediatric ophthalmologist – explains: ‘ Excellent surgeries are a vital first step but we must be able to see our patients regularly to make sure that they are getting the most out of their sight’.