A sustainable solution to eliminate avoidable childhood blindness in Cambodia

Worldwide, 1.4million children are blind with Asia home to two thirds of these children. UNICEF estimates there are 5.9million children in Cambodia, requiring access to quality eye health care.

Staggeringly, a Childhood Blindness Study identified that half of all childhood blindness in Cambodia is avoidable through early intervention and access to eye health care.

To address this, Sight For All (SFA) has been providing services in Cambodia for 12 years. An Australian social impact organisation, SFA delivers eye health care projects to partner communities and countries to create sustainable change long after the project ends.  Underpinned by research, projects can include the provision of sustainable education, infrastructure support and eye health awareness campaigns.

Since 2009, SFA has trained Fellows in seven ophthalmic sub-specialty areas in Cambodia. According to Prof Ngy Meng, Director of Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital (KSFH) “SFA’s programs have proved an effective way to provide the skills needed to help our patients and Country. Eye care impacts many aspects of life; employment, education, poverty and our economy.” 

In 2020, with the support of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program, SFA commenced a two-year paediatric ophthalmology project to train two new Cambodian Fellows to treat children’s eye disease.

Drs Namgech and Sreylin, both female general ophthalmologists, started their specialty training in September at KSFH. With COVID travel restrictions, their surgical and clinical training is overseen by graduated SFA Paediatric Ophthalmology Fellows in Cambodia. The Fellows receive monthly online tutorials delivered by SFA Visionaries who are paediatric ophthalmologists from Australian and New Zealand. In June 2021, SFA procured essential ophthalmic equipment to further support paediatric eye care in Cambodia.

To date, Drs Namgech and Sreylin have treated more than 380 children and performed 34 surgeries, with their capacity improving over time. The Fellows recognise their ability to diagnose and treat the youngest of patients with increasing confidence.

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