Changing Lives through Restoring Sight
Resource type: Grantee Story
Blindness from cataracts is a significant public health problem in Viet Nam. In 2002, there were 482,700 cases of bilateral blindness throughout the country, of which 71.3% are due to cataracts.
Being blind poses significant personal, social and economic barriers for the afflicted, especially for those living in the rural areas and in poverty. With the launch of a Global Initiative known as “Vision 2020: the Right to Sight” in 1999, the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam set goals to strengthen the eye-care system in the country.
Substantial efforts were made to improve eye-care facilities and conduct programmes to control the major causes of blindness. While there have been significant improvements in eye-care programmes due to the investments of the Government in the major cities such as Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, the Central and Highland regions where almost 100,000 people are suffering from bilateral blindness still lag far behind. Lack of adequate eye-care facilities and well-trained providers are the major obstacles for the rural regions of Viet Nam.
Purpose and Impact of the Grant
The Da Nang Eye Hospital, established in 1998, is the foremost eye-care institution in the Central and Highland regions responsible for providing eye care and disease prevention for 11 million people in eight provinces. The Hospital is also responsible for the training of community health staff for the identification, treatment and prevention of eye diseases throughout the region. Compared with the tasks assigned to it, the Hospital’s facilities and human capacity are woefully inadequate to address the vision needs of the Central and Highland regions.
In 2004, Atlantic made a grant of $105,000 to enable the Da Nang Eye Hospital to provide advanced specialty training for key eye-care providers and other specialists in eight provinces in the region. Later that year, an additional $1,355,000 grant allowed the Hospital to upgrade its infrastructure and obtain much needed equipment.
The grants allowed the Hospital to expand its staff of 70 to 98, to increase its size from 70 to 160 beds, and to improve the services offered ranging from 10% to 70% as compared with 2003. The overall goal of this initiative made it possible for the Da Nang Eye Hospital to make significant contribution to the national programme implementing Vision 2020. The Hospital is planning a second phase of institutional development that will put the Da Nang Eye Hospital on the same level as some of the top eye hospitals in the Southeast Asian region.
Grants from Atlantic have allowed for the strengthening of the vision restoration and blindness prevention network for the Central and Highland regions and integrated eye-care into general health services. Through a quick and painless procedure, a seeing impaired person’s sight can be restored.The personal, family and social impact of being able to see again is truly gratifying.