L’OCCITANE Canada / L’OCCITANE Foundation

With support from L’OCCITANE Canada and the L’OCCITANE Foundation, Orbis is working to integrate eye health into Ghana’s primary health care system to create community-level access to primary eye care services and eye health education, while also strengthening eye care capacity at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Offinso District.

Offinso District is one of the Ashanti Region’s 43 Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies. It is affected by high rates of poverty and has the fourth highest burden of eye disease in the entire Region. In fact, visual impairment and blindness is the most prevalent form of disability in the district.

Unfortunately, there is little access to eye care at the community level, meaning families requiring eye care are often forced to endure lengthy, costly, and sometimes dangerous travel to a larger city, and most simply opt not to seek diagnosis and treatment.

Orbis’s research also identified a severe lack of awareness and understanding about common eye diseases and the importance of proper eye care within communities in the Ashanti Region. This means that many people are simply unaware that most eye conditions are treatable or entirely preventable.

As a result, many people’s eye conditions go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or mismanaged, resulting in needless and permanent vision loss. 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 timely diagnosis and access to proper eye care.

Establishing community-based eye care in Ashanti Region, Ghana

Orbis has been collaborating with our partners in the Ashanti Region for many years to address the critical gaps in eye care, but there is more that we can do. With support from L’OCCITANE Canada and the L’OCCITANE Foundation, we're building on the tremendous success of our work throughout the Ashanti Region and have launched a new phase of the Establishing community-based eye care in Ashanti Region, Ghana project.

Working closely with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate, Orbis will provide primary eye care training to 40 Community Health Officers (CHOs) and 30 Health Centre Nurses (HCNs) in the Offinso District.

CHOs provide health services for families through home visits and community outreach programs, while HCNs treat patients who come to a Community Health Centre. Neither CHOs nor HCNs currently have any training in eye care. Once trained, the CHOs and HCNs will begin delivering eye screenings, primary eye care, and referral services almost immediately.

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

The project will also help scale up eye care capacity at St. Patrick’s Hospital, a district-level hospital in Offinso District, through the purchase of critical ophthalmic equipment, supplies and consumables. This will allow community members to access more advanced diagnosis or treatment services at the district level, instead of having to travel to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, a tertiary-level hospital in Kumasi.

Finally, we will focus on increasing community awareness and understanding about eye health and the critical importance of proper eye care, especially for children. Orbis will work with our community partners to deliver weekly community outreach and behavioural change communication activities, including an innovative and highly effective tool known as ‘facilitated film screenings’. The film screening events will serve as a platform for individuals, families and entire communities to discuss eye health issues and engage with primary eye care providers in their communities.

About L'OCCITANE Canada / L'OCCITANE Foundation

Since it was founded, L’OCCITANE en Provence has supported initiatives to help others and protect the environment. In 2018, based on these solid foundations, L'OCCITANE decided to define six key areas of action: Respecting Biodiversity, Supporting Producers, Reducing Waste, Empowering Women, Caring for Sight and Celebrating Craftsmanship. Three of them totally match the L'OCCITANE Foundation's commitments, thus allowing the entire L'OCCITANE community to put a greater highlight on them.

The L’OCCITANE Foundation’s priority is to protect people's eyesight by funding eye care all around the world (screening, glasses, treatments, surgeries, equipment and training). It is also committed to promoting female leadership in Burkina Faso by supporting women with entrepreneurial projects and helping with their emancipation. Finally, the Foundation supports initiatives that aim to conserve biodiversity.