OBAT Canada

With support from OBAT Canada, we are working with our partners to reduce preventable vision loss and blindness due to cataracts among Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh. In most cases, a cataract can be removed – and a person’s vision restored – with a simple, quick and inexpensive surgery.

Nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees currently reside in 34 extremely congested camps formally designated by the Government of Bangladesh in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts in Cox’s Bazar District. Understandably, the government, humanitarian agencies and other international NGOs have focused on addressing urgent critical care needs, such as food, clean water, shelter and basic medical care.

As a result, access to even the most basic eye care was virtually non-existent until Orbis stepped in. With funding from Qatar Fund for Development and OBAT Canada, Orbis currently manages the largest eye care program in Cox’s Bazar. Since February 2018, Orbis and our local partners have provided eye care services to the Rohingya population and the host community in Cox’s Bazar, with fixed vision screening locations established in Camps 4 and 11 of the Ketapang refugee settlement.

Restoration of Eyesight in Cox’s Bazar

With the support of OBAT Canada in 2018 and 2019, Orbis partnered with Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital (CBBSH) to deliver 34 eye screening outreach programs and screen over 10,000 Rohingya refugees in Camp 4. Through these eye screening programs, staff and volunteers identified and selected a total of 1,000 patients who were referred to CBBSH where they received fully subsidized cataract surgery. Follow-up was also scheduled and completed with all patients to ensure positive surgical outcomes. 905 patients were prescribed eyeglasses and 727 patients were prescribed medication.

Building on the successful first phase of this project, OBAT Canada committed to fund a second series of eye screening outreach camps in 2020-2021. It is anticipated that 5,000-6,000 Rohingya refugees will receive an eye screening where they will be examined for various eye health issues. 500 patients will be selected and referred to CBBSH for free cataract surgery with priority being given to women and elderly patients through targeted screening practices. Post-operative care and follow-up, including examination and medication, will be provided to ensure the best possible surgical outcomes. Eyeglasses will also be provided for free during follow-up to any patients who still experience compromised vision due to refractive error.

Thanks to OBAT Canada, this project will help restore the sight of 1,500 Rohingya refugees. While addressing conditions such as malnutrition and infectious disease remains the highest priority in the camps, this project illustrates how addressing non-life-threatening needs can help displaced communities to thrive, even under demanding conditions.

About OBAT Canada

OBAT Canada is a volunteer-based registered charity that embraces a holistic approach in supporting impoverished communities and individuals to break free of the poverty cycle. They support initiatives at home in Canada and in South Asia, where they are committed to providing aid, healthcare, education and economic empowerment to displaced and disadvantaged communities, including Rohingya refugees.