Much of our partners’ sight-saving work with children took place in Nepal in 2021.
Since 2016, Orbis India has played a leading role in the Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) programme.
REACH is an innovative model that identifies and treats children with refractive error. It provides glasses where necessary and allows users to manage each patient’s screening, referral and treatment journey on a bespoke database (REACHSoft).
This year, our programmes adapted to pandemic restrictions, applying a ‘dual screening’ approach by visiting children in their homes and at school. We retained the approach once schools had reopened to make sure as many children as possible were screened.
In Province 1, despite the challenges of school closures, Orbis partners achieved 95% of their screening target, 164% of their prescriptions target, and 123% of their surgery target. Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs), who are skilled in engaging parents and children about the importance of good eye health, were key to reaching people in their homes.
Meanwhile, in the final quarter alone, the project teams visited 142 schools and screened nearly 60,000 children, leading to 3,736 prescriptions for glasses and 40 critical eye operations. Once prescribed glasses, it can be challenging to make sure children wear them.
There remains a stigma around needing glasses, and children with refractive error are often teased and excluded from social groups. This year, Orbis-funded teams provided counselling and raised awareness in-person and over the phone to combat these issues. Overall, 64% of children in Province 1 were wearing their new glasses correctly, which is encouraging considering the disruption caused by pandemic restrictions.