Blindness in Malawi
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, a majority of the population do not have access to necessary surgeries regarding eye health.
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, the majority of the country continues to have extremely limited access to eye care services.
SEE in Malawi
SEE has been hosting clinics in Malawi for 20 years, with a commitment to reduce the prevalence of preventable and curable blindness in the country.
In 2017, SEE volunteer doctor, Dr. Aisha Simjee provided vital eye screenings to about 45 patients. Most importantly, Dr. Simjee helped develop treatment plans with the local staff for the patients and create a sustainable means for the patients to receive care in the future.