Rwanda has become the first low-income country to provide universal eye care for its 12 million population. The government has partnered with the organisation Vision for a Nation (VFAN) to train more than 3,000 eye care nurses based in 502 local health centers, prescribing glasses and referring those with serious eye problems to national clinics. Nurses have visited each of Rwanda’s 15,000 villages.
We’ve found that 34% of the population in Rwanda could benefit from some form of eye care. This ranges from very minor symptoms [to] those requiring life-changing surgery. Dr Graeme Mackenzie, a consultant to Vision for a Nation, described how untreated sight conditions, particularly in women, trap families in a cycle of poverty.
It is usually females employed in this industry, and their livelihood depends on their ability to sort beans. Around the age of 45 they lose their ability to see well. Their quality of work suffers and therefore their income suffers. Rwanda is leading the way in Africa by providing all its people with affordable eye care. This has been made possible by the great collaboration between the government of Rwanda and Vision for a Nation. The impact of this initiative has been enormous.