New Diabetic Retinopathy Program Launched in Bangladesh

February 2019

A staggering one-third of 10 million diabetics in Bangladesh risk going blind because so many sufferers go undiagnosed. A new project in the Gopalganj district - unveiled by our CEO Bob Ranck - is dedicated to combating an explosion of blindness caused by diabetes.

The ‘Creation of Diabetic Retinopathy Referral Network’ is backed by World Diabetes Foundation with support from local health and eye care partners.

The project was officially launched on February 11th with Orbis International CEO, Bob Ranck, invited to attend as the guest of honor.

Local health and eye care partners with Orbis International CEO, Bob Ranck, at the project launch event

It’s designed to create a scalable integrated model to improve eye care services for diabetic patients, with a specific focus on diabetic retinopathy in five rural districts.

During the inauguration ceremony local health experts provided an insight into the country’s diabetes crisis.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) affects an estimated one-third of people with diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in adults between 35-50.

In fact, every person living with diabetes is at risk of developing DR and may potentially go blind over time as excessive blood sugar levels can cause irreversible damage to vessels in the retina.

The number of Diabetic Eye Diseases and associated blindness and death is increasing every year because patients don’t know they have the disease. Even when they do, those impacted lack access to quality eye care to fight it.

Speaking at the event, Orbis International President & CEO, Bob Ranck, informed the audience that Diabetic Retinopathy is now one of the key causes of childhood blindness and that 54 Bangladesh Diabetic Samity (BADAS) hospitals' eye care programs need to be extended so that every diabetes patient can get eye treatment under one umbrella.

Project stakeholders observe a diabetic retinopathy screening

What the project hopes to achieve

During the next three years, alongside the support of our amazing local partners, the ‘Creation of Diabetic Retinopathy Referral Network’ initiative will:

  • Screen 253,000 patients with diabetes including Diabetic Retinopathy in four districts of Bangladesh – Gopalganj, Bogura, Netrokona, Mymensingh and Sherpur.
  • Treat 22,000 patients with Diabetic Retinopathy referred from eye hospitals during the project period
  • Enable 315 patients from impoverished families to receive financial assistance for treatment to fight the disease through a voucher program

Thanks to our partners

We would like to thank local healthcare and eye care partners and the Bangladesh government for their support kick starting this project. We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship.

We’d also like to say a big thank you to the following partners ...

  • Gopalganj Sheikh Fazilatunnessa Mujib Eye Hospital and Training Institute
  • Bangladesh Diabetic Samity (BADAS) Gopalganj
  • World Diabetes Foundation

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