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.

Amref Health Africa UK launches ‘Health in Her Hands’ campaign

Amref Health Africa launched ‘Health in Her Hands’ today (8 March), a new appeal which will support frontline health workers who are saving and changing lives across Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 11% of the global population – but only 3% of the world’s health workers. Worldwide, a shortfall of almost 18 million health workers is projected by 2030.

“Investing in female health workers is vital if this trend is to be reversed,” says Amref Health Africa UK’s Chief Executive, Frances Longley. “When they’re equipped with the right tools and training, women have the power to transform the health of some of the most remote and marginalised communities in Africa. They’re on the front line of change – and Amref Health Africa is determined to help them succeed.”

The funds raised through ‘Health in Her Hands’ will be used to strengthen health systems, train health workers and improve access to services. Furthermore, as a UK Aid Match appeal, every public donation will be matched by the UK government.

Find out more here.

CBM helping people to ‘See the Way’ to a brighter future

Improving access to sight-saving eye health services in Rwanda is the primary aim of CBM’s latest appeal, ‘See the Way’, which launched today (15 February).

As well as improving access to support and treatment, the ‘See the Way’ appeal will raise funds to strengthen eye health systems. Furthermore, as a UK Aid Match appeal, all donations will be doubled by the UK government.

“Some of Rwanda’s most vulnerable people are still living with avoidable blindness and visual impairments. Too often it is these treatable illnesses that stop these people from accessing education and earning a living,”says Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt. “By providing access to basic eye health services the UK Aid Match ‘See the Way’ appeal will change lives across Rwanda for generations.”

Find out more about the appeal.