SEE has been organizing clinics in Malawi for 20 years, with a commitment to reduce the prevalence of preventable blindness in the country.
In 2017, SEE volunteer doctor Dr. Aisha Simjee provided vital eye screenings to over 40 patients. More importantly, Dr. Simjee helped develop treatment plans with the local staff for the patients and contributed to creating a sustainable means for the patients to receive care in the future.
Malawi was initially settled by migrating Bantu groups in the 10th century. In the late 19th century, British colonists arrived, turning it into a protectorate of the United Kingdom. After gaining independence in 1966, a one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda remained in power until 1994. According to the Human Development Index, it is one of the least-developed countries in the world, ranking 171st out of 189 states, as of 2018. Its population subsists largely on agriculture, with most Malawians living in rural settings.
An estimated 136,000 Malawians suffer from blindness. The African Health Observatory, a sector of the World Health Organization, stated that up to 80% of all blindness in the country is due to preventable or treatable conditions. However, with only four practicing ophthalmologists in the entire country, the majority of the population does not have access to necessary eye care.
The leading cause of blindness in Malawi are cataracts, accounting for nearly 50% of all blindness, followed by glaucoma (15%) and trachoma (15%). As part of the global campaign Vision 2020, Malawi developed its second National Action Plan for the Prevention of Blindness. However, most of the country continues to have extremely limited access to eye care services.