More than 90% of visually impaired people live in developing countries. Poverty and blindness are inextricably linked, depriving many people in the developing world of basic human rights. Sightsavers is one of the world’s leading non-government organisations dedicated to combating avoidable blindness and promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities in developing countries. We have been working with local partners in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean for 60 years.
Sightsavers supports work promoting eye health, preventing and treating causes of avoidable blindness. We also support people who are irreversibly blind. We have:
- treated over 200 million people for blinding and potentially blinding conditions
- carried out over seven million operations to restore sight
- trained almost 500,000 primary healthcare workers in eye care
- provided rehabilitation training to 91,000 visually impaired people
We work in a sustainable way to promote lasting change. We strengthen existing health systems and local organisations wherever possible, fostering independence and building local capacity to deliver services in the long term. We seek to influence governments through advocacy and by demonstrating scalable and adaptable models of best practice.
Links to the health workforce crisis
Training of health workers is a very important part of our work. We support the training of a wide range of people – right through from community volunteers, to primary healthcare workers, mid level personnel (of whom there is a particular shortage – we train ophthalmic nurses to do trichiasis and cataract surgery for example) to optometrists and ophthalmologists (including sub speciality training such as paediatrics). We also fund links between institutions in the UK and in the developing world.
We provide funding, expertise and have done some research, mainly linked to service delivery and prevalence studies. This is an area we will be expanding, and looking more at HRD issues. Advocacy is an increasing part of our work, especially at the country and regional level. We have particular expertise in supporting multi country HRD work in Africa, working in consortia with other interested NGOs and with local institutions.