Peter Gilgan Foundation

Thanks to the Peter Gilgan Foundation, Orbis established the first-ever retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) screening, treatment and referral service network in Bangladesh’s Chittagong and Rangpur Divisions, helping move another step closer to a national network of high-quality ROP services across the country.

Bangladesh is the fifth largest country in Asia with a population of over 160 million people, including more than 64 million children under the age of 16. Many families live in remote, rural areas with high levels of poverty and limited access to basic eye care services. As a result, preventable diseases that cause visual impairment and blindness are a serious public health concern throughout the country, particularly when it comes to children.

One blinding eye condition that is of particular and rising concern in Bangladesh is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Primarily affecting premature babies, ROP is the world’s leading cause of childhood blindness and is quickly emerging as a serious public health issue in Bangladesh.

As the nation’s maternal, neonatal and child health services have improved, more premature babies are surviving to term. However, a lack of knowledge, training, modern medical equipment, and effective screening protocols for ROP in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) has led to an explosion of ROP, particularly among families in rural communities.

Establishing Retinopathy of Prematurity Screening and Treatment in Bangladesh

To address this impending epidemic of ROP, Orbis launched Phase 1 of a multi-phase initiative entitled “Establishing Retinopathy of Prematurity Screening and Treatment in Bangladesh” to create access to high-quality ROP screening and treatment services across the country. In partnership with Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital in Dhaka City, Orbis established the first – and at the time, the only – ROP centre in Bangladesh.

Then, with support from the Peter Gilgan Foundation in 2019-2020, Orbis partnered with Deep Eye Care Foundation (DECF) in Rangpur District and Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex (CEITC) in Chittagong District to launch Phase 2 of the initiative. In Year 1 of the three-year project, Orbis established the first-ever ROP screening and treatment centres to serve rural communities in Chittagong and Rangpur.

Through this project, Orbis delivered critical training, provided modern medical equipment, developed an essential referral network to service rural communities, and elevated ROP as a key national health care priority. With the necessary infrastructure now in place, both DECF and CEITC have begun screening, treating and referring premature babies. As awareness builds, the demand for services will only continue to increase.

We are incredibly proud of what this project has achieved and are grateful for the generous support of the Peter Gilgan Foundation.

About the Peter Gilgan Foundation

The Peter Gilgan Foundation is a private family foundation that aims to improve the lives of children and families by empowering charities that help the world transition to a more healthy, prosperous, and sustainable future.