Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Blogging from Malawi: VISION 2020 –MALAWI

I am privileged to be one of the first people to be asked by the Communications Manager, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight through their new blog VISION2020 Communication Manager to share stories of VISION2020 activities in Malawi.
Malawi has been active in VISION 2020 activities since 2000, and has successfully organised VISION2020 workshops for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Malawi completed the VISION 2020 five year Eye care plan in 2004, and progress has been made towards achieving goals to eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020 in Malawi.
Based on the 3 pillars of VISION2020, in terms of disease control, Childhood blindness was set as one of the major priorities and a Paediatric Ophthalmology unit was planned to be developed in Blantyre .As of now,through the VISION2020 Links Programme , Blantyre was linked to York hill in Glasgow and the team from Glasgow have helped in building up capacity to develop the Unit .Infrastructure and equipment has been provided by the Team from Glasgow and also Sight Savers international Malawi office .In addition a study of how blind and visually impaired children can be identified in the rural communities in Malawi to feed back to the Paediatric unit was started in 2007 ,as so far 3 districts have been covered (Mulanje ,Zomba ,Mangochi) with a good number of children identified .
Another disease listed was Trachoma, and to determine the burden of Trachoma in Malawi, a trachoma prevalence survey was done in 2008 and currently plans are under way to start trachoma control activities. In 2009 plans are under way to do a rapid assessment of avoidable blindness study and determine the magnitude of cataract in Malawi

The greatest achievement is perhaps in the field of Human Resource Development. Two new ophthalmologist joined the team in Malawi (one based in Mzuzu-Northern and the other in Nkhoma –Central Region ). A Paediatric ophthalmologist, a Vitreoretinal ophthalmologist and a public health Ophthalmologist (myself) have been trained within the last two years .In addition a postgraduate training programme for Ophthalmologist has been started at College of Medicine .Of more interest is that the first Malawian ophthalmologist and pioneer of Ophthalmology –Moses Chirambo has retired in 2009 from Ophthalmology and become the Minister of Health in Malawi .
A school for training ophthalmologist has been established in Malawi under a consortium led by International centre for Eye care education (ICEE) International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE)

Blantyre Institute for Community Ophthalmology was established in 2008 and is responsible for all the logistical and technical support for the community eye researches that are currently being done in Malawi, and as part of the capacity building programme has made links with Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO)

VISION 2020 is here to stay, and will continue providing platform for eye care to advance in Malawi

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