No child left behind in Nepal

Despite the closure of schools in Nepal, children were still able to receive vital eye examinations when we took our REACH (Refractive Error Among CHildren) eye screening program door-to-door. Our team of specially trained, fully paid female Community Health Workers visited more than 6,000 households in the final months of 2020.

In just over two months, Orbis screened 12,000 children. 340 children were referred to a doctor for further examination. Of those children, 151 required some form of treatment and 140 children received a pair of spectacles.

Along with ensuring children did not miss out on critical eye screenings during school shutdowns, this approach has clear potential for the future. Going house-to-house allows us to reach children who are home-schooled, children living with a disability, or those unable to go to school for any other reason.

Community health workers can speak directly with parents to address the cultural stigma of wearing glasses and educate them about the importance of proper eye health for the whole family. This face-to-face interaction can help ensure parents take their children for follow-up appointments and that children actually wear their prescribed glasses. It also provides an opportunity for the teams to educate families about the dangers of COVID-19 and how to minimise community transmission of the virus.

Although schools have re-opened in Nepal, our door-to-door screening programs will continue as a complement to traditional school screenings, rather than a replacement. The new hybrid model provides an effective back-up should schools suddenly close again.

To help us identify more children in Nepal in need of treatment, please consider donating to Orbis.

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