Gay Lea Foundation

With support from the Gay Lea Foundation, the "Integration of Community Eye Care in Ashanti Region, Ghana" project will help create access to high-quality primary eye care at the community level, increase awareness about good eye health, and improve positive health seeking behaviour in the Sekyere South District.

Sekyere South District is a rural, subsistence community located in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The community is affected by high rates of poverty and access to even basic medical services is limited. Not surprisingly, Sekyere South District has the highest burden of eye disease in the entire Ashanti Region. In fact, visual impairment and blindness are the most prevalent forms of disability in the District, accounting for 45% of all causes.

A severe shortage of properly trained eye care workers and a lack of community awareness about eye disease and proper eye health means that many people’s eye conditions go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or mistreated. Women and children bear the greatest burden of eye disease resulting from lack of diagnosis or delayed treatment. It is estimated that between 50 – 70% of all cases of pediatric blindness are entirely avoidable with access to proper eye care.

Integration of Community Eye Care in Ashanti Region, Ghana

Building on the tremendous success of Orbis’s work throughout the Ashanti Region, this project will help increase access to high-quality primary eye care, eye health education and advanced treatment referral services at the community level in the Sekyere South District.

In collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, and with support from the Gay Lea Foundation, Orbis will work to integrate primary eye care into the core health care services delivered in Sekyere South District. The project will provide primary eye care training for 100 primary health care workers so they can deliver eye care and eye health education as part of their existing health care provider roles in the community. The focus on training and improving the skills of these health workers will build the community’s capacity to provide eye care for its own people – now and for the future.

Eye health capacity will also be developed by equipping the district hospital in Sekyere South District with much-needed eye care equipment, instruments, medications and supplies.

Slideshow: The Flying Eye Hospital visited Ghana in November 2019 for a 3-week training program.

Creating access to eye care in the community means that people will not have to travel long distances for basic screening, diagnosis and treatment - something that is especially important for women and children. By making eye care available at the community level, women and their children will be far more likely to receive care for eye conditions that might otherwise cause permanent visual impairment or even blindness.

The project will also focus on delivering valuable eye health education to increase community awareness about proper eye care, common eye diseases and the critical importance of seeking care from a trained medical professional. The focus on education and awareness, rather than just treatment, will help improve positive health-seeking behaviour and reduce unsafe or ineffective health care practices.

About the Gay Lea Foundation

The Gay Lea Foundation is dedicated to supporting education, poverty relief, co-operative development and community well-being projects in the communities where their members and employees live, work and play – and in developing countries around the world. Since its creation in 2014, the Foundation has awarded grants to more than 80 registered Canadian charities doing important development work in Canada, Haiti, Central America, Asia and Africa.