World Health Day: Exploring two UK Aid Match projects improving healthcare in the developing world

In celebration of  World Health Day (7 April) we explore how UK Aid Match projects, run by Sense International and Sightsavers, are making a difference in the developing world.

So, what are Sightsavers and Sense International trying to do?

Sightsavers’ Right to Health project is focused on improving the uptake of eye health services, particularly amongst those with disabilities and ensuring eye health services are accessible in Pakistan and Bangladesh. To put the size of the task into perspective, Sightsavers estimate that in their project area there are one million people who require cataract surgery. Cataracts can cause blindness but the surgery to fix the problem is fairly straightforward, taking only 20 minutes. You can see a minute time lapse of the surgery on Sightsavers website.

Sense International is piloting a pioneering programme to screen infants for multi-sensory impairments which has been developed in partnership with the Ministries of Health in Kenya and Uganda. Spotting potential impairments early can have a significant impact on a child’s development.

Sounds great! How’s it going?

Five months into their project, Sightsavers has examined more than 170,000 people, performed over 7,000 cataract surgeries and administered 80,000 non-surgical treatments in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Audits have also been carried out in partner hospitals to help improve the overall eye care service and ensure that it is accessible to those with disabilities.

In Kenya and Uganda, Sense International has screened more than 65,000 babies and, where necessary, has provided early intervention therapy and mobility, sight and hearing aids.

What an impact! But what about when the project ends? Are steps in place to make the changes sustainable?

Great question. Health workers are being trained by Sense International to properly screen babies in Kenya and Uganda, and the county government of Nairobi is now committed to the future of the early intervention programme.

Meanwhile, in a step to improve eye health for all, Sightsavers is working with partner hospitals to ensure that eye health services in Pakistan and Bangladesh are accessible to those with disabilities and to train staff on disability inclusion. Sightsavers has also engaged with organisations who are helping to make eye health services more inclusive for those with disabilities across Bangladesh and Pakistan. This has led to Pakistan’s National Eye Health Coordinator announcing the formation of the Inclusive Eye Health Committee.

World Child Cancer gives the gift of growing up to children in Bangladesh

With its latest appeal, World Child Cancer is aiming to improve access to and the quality of cancer treatment for children in Bangladesh.

It is expected that more than 6,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer in Bangladesh this year and only a fraction will receive an accurate diagnosis due to the cost and inaccessibility of treatment.

The ‘Give the Gift of Growing Up’ appeal will raise money to train more doctors and nurses, provide essential support to families and empower nurses to improve standards of care and outcomes for children with cancer. Furthermore, as a UK Aid Match appeal, all donations to the appeal will be matched by the UK government.

“Every one of us has been affected by cancer one way or another, be that a family member or a friend being diagnosed with the disease,” says Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt. “Thanks to the generous British public’s support to World Child Cancer’s UK Aid Match campaign, we can help more children in Bangladesh who wouldn’t usually have access to any form of treatment, to survive and reach their full potential.”

Find out more about the appeal here.

MAG to help families in the Middle East living in fear of landmines

On International Landmine Awareness Day (April 4), the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is launching its ‘Home Safe Home’ fundraising appeal to make homes in former conflict areas in the Middle East free from landmines.

Across the Middle East, tens of thousands of landmines and unexploded bombs lie ready to maim and kill at any moment in and around people’s homes. Over 10 million people remain displaced in the region with many unable to return home because of landmine contamination. Every day, 20 people are reported killed or injured by landmines and unexploded bombs globally. Almost half of the civilian casualties of landmines are children.

Using highly trained staff and special machinery, MAG teams across the Middle East find and destroy landmines and unexploded bombs, freeing communities from fear and bringing them back to life.

“The UK already has a leading role in ridding the world of these deadly weapons of war and supporting experts to clear land, which last year was the equivalent of seven thousand football pitches,” says Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt. “All donations made during MAG’s Home Safe Home campaign, which is getting demining experts to find and destroy mines before children find them, will be doubled by the UK government – making donations go even further.”

Find out more about the appeal here.