Qatar Charity (QC) and blindness prevention organisation Orbis, are working together to provide services to the Rohingya refugees and local host population in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
In one year, over 75,000 eye tests have been provided, with over 18,000 surgeries undertaken, glasses prescribed, and medicines provided, a statement said yesterday.
The two-year programme, funded by QC, is strengthening the eye health network by supporting over 300 people to be trained, from frontline health workers to doctors and nurses. So far, more than 130 people have received crucial training.
Out of 160mn of Bangladesh's total population, over 60% live in rural, remote areas, including Cox’s Bazar, where this programme is based.
With around 1mn refugees in the area, the further development and expansion of eye health services is vital, to serve both the local host community as well as the Rohingya population, many of whom have never had access to medical care before.
The Rohingya community has recently been further impacted by a fire, which broke out in Camp 11. The area is home to the Orbis and Qatar Charity supported Balukhali Vision Centre. All staff were unharmed, and the vision centre was not damaged.
QC CEO Yousuf bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, said: "We emphasise the importance of the existing partnership with Orbis to provide eye health services for the marginalised. As part of our co-operation that began in 2015 through eye care initiatives in Bangladesh, we look forward to continuing our work to contribute to delivering high-quality eye care services to vulnerable people in hard-to-reach areas, alleviating the suffering of underprivileged patients, and raising awareness about eye diseases in vulnerable communities.”
Orbis and Qatar Charity have collaborated on a previous successful programme in Bangladesh, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Qatar. Between 2015 and 2020, more than a million people accessed eye health facilities to receive eye tests or treatments, and through the training of many new ophthalmologists and nurses, the number of surgeries in the programme area increased each year, totalling more than 48,000.
Orbis UK CEO Rebecca Cronin, said: “We are grateful to be able to continue our collaboration with Qatar Charity. Our partners have been working hard and so many with sight loss have been seen and assisted through this funding. The last few years have taught us that the needs of our partners can change very rapidly. Covid-19 has required the delivery of services to evolve, which can put a strain on resources.
“It is through generous supporters such as Qatar Charity, that Orbis is able to provide our partners with training and increased funds, so that they can adapt and deliver necessary eye care to many more people, protecting their educations and livelihoods.”
Orbis been transforming lives through the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness for four decades. With a close network of partners, they mentor and train local eye care teams – from community workers to doctors and nurses – so that they can save and restore vision in their communities.
A group of women post surgery at the hospital in Cox's Bazar
A street view of Rohingya camp