Blindness in Swaziland
Providing critical eyecare to the people who need it most
Most of the people of Swaziland live in the countryside, relying on agriculture for their livelihood. So for many living in often remote communities, finding and getting to an eyecare clinic is a huge challenge, meaning they often go without critical treatment. On top of that, without education on what modern treatments are available to them, they are missing out on life changing surgeries, like cataract removal.
According to UNICEF, Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV in the world. This epidemic has left many children without their parents, and totally reliant on the care and support of their grand parents. So our work to eradicate preventable blindness for this older generation of caregivers is not only having a profound effect on their own quality of life, but that of their grandchildren too.
Although the size of the problem is challenging, with almost half of all disabilities in Swaziland being blindness or visual impairment* the government has recently made great strides. From introducing braille education into colleges so people can continue their education, to creating a braille telephone directory so everyone has the opportunity to be connected by phone, these actions are helping to change society.
*The African Disability Rights Yearbook 2015 (out of 171,347 disabled people in Swaziland, 78,083 people, or 46%, suffered from seeing disabilities).
SEE in Swaziland
With only two resident ophthalmologists in a country of over 1.3 million people, SEE’s programs, and others like it, are absolutely critical. For the vast majority of the people, they provide the only opportunity for essential eye care and the chance of independent lives.
In 2016, SEE established a partnership with the Luke Commission in Sidvokodvo, focusing on restoring the sight of people suffering from cataracts, pterygium, and glaucoma. Each year, SEE teams host programs that treat more than 100 people in need each year.