The improvement in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness in the region of Mopti, Mali. Eyes of the world

Blindness and visual impairment in Mali are a heavy burden for those affected individuals and their families, particularly women, as it is one of the major causes of poverty and social vulnerability. Moreover, it has a negative effect on economic productivity and the development of the population. Most cases of blindness are avoidable and curable. In the region of Mopti the prevalence of blindness is estimated to be 1.2% which is between 6 and 7 times greater than in the countries of our environment.


NARRATIVE SUMMARY

The Eyes of Mali program was started in 2008 by Eyes of the world which aimed to contribute to the reduction of avoidable blindness in the region of Mopti.

The program's goal is to tackle ocular pathologies from an integral perspective and reach the objectives of improving the visual health of people suffering from them. This can be achieved by training local health workers and providing technical knowledge with respect to ophthalmology and optics, supplying material resources (equipment and consumables) to the medical centers, preventing avoidable blindness through informative campaigns, promoting hygiene, and contributing to an improvement in the systems and procedures of ocular health.

All of the above helps to consolidate an integral system of ocular care based on a strategy of self-sustainability and accessibility. To achieve this aim, training has been prioritized and a strategy of community health drawn up with strong emphasis on the promotion and diffusion of the right to health and an ophthalmologic service. At the level of prevention, it is planned to work with the community in general and more specifically with particular groups (children, women, teachers and so on). It is hoped, therefore, that there will be greater knowledge about the rights and needs of the population and, as a consequence, an increase in demand.

Specifically, the principle activities foreseen by Eyes of the world in the program are the following:

  • Interventions and consultations for people with ocular pathologies and in situations of vulnerability
  • The carrying out of campaigns for the detection of defects in refraction or reduced vision in schools and kindergartens with the referral of cases to the ophthalmologic consultation or the optics workshop
  • The placement of life-sized eye charts in the region's schools.
  • Setting up training workshops in basic ocular care for primary school and kindergarten teachers. The aim of the workshops will be the capacity building of the teachers so that they have the necessary knowledge to know how to act when they find children with visual deficiencies.
  • The training of instructors in ocular healthcare. This consists of training instructors in the women's associations so that they can transmit their knowledge to the female population and make them aware of the relationship between personal ocular care and their children. From all the studied diseases emphasis will be particularly placed on hygiene and sanitation in the prevention of trachoma.
  • Sending medical-surgical commissions trained in pediatric ophthalmology and the retina to the African Institute of Tropical Ophthalmology (AITO) at Bamako.
  • The training in ophthalmologic sub-specialties by videoconference. This system allows prestigious European experts to train local personnel in Mali, thus reducing costs (travelling and expenses). Continuous training and updating courses centered on pediatric ophthalmology and the retina will be carried out in the AITO.
  • The supplying of consumables, medication and equipment to the CSR at Bankass, the Hospital Sominé Dolo (HSD) at Mopti, and the health centers of reference of the districts.
  • Improvement in the structures and startup of the optical workshop in the CSR at Bankass.