Since 2019, SEE has been working with Dr. John Cropsey to relaunch the Retinoblastoma program in Kibuye at the Retinoblastoma Center at Kibuye Hope Hospital. We have continued to support Dr. Cropsey in Burundi with other consumables as well. Since 2017, SEE has organized two programs in Burundi, performing over 400 sight-restoring surgeries.
Burundi is a landlocked country located where the African Great Lakes region and the region of East Africa converge. Though the country gained its independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has been wrought with civil wars and political unrest for multiple decades. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world – with a population of just over 11 million, 66.9% of Burundians live below the poverty line. Moreover, eye health services are not a part of the country’s national health system, and many people below the poverty line do not have access to basic eye health screenings and treatment.
There are an estimated 24,000 Burundians who suffer from blindness and an additional 169,000 who suffer from moderate to severe visual impairments. The main causes of blindness in Burundi are cataracts, uncorrected refractive errors, and childhood blindness. According to a blindness survey in the north region of Burundi, 62.5% of all cases of blindness in the region are preventable