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An innovative Burnet Institute program training older community members as ‘Eye Health Promoters’ (EHPs) has significantly improved thousands of lives in the Sri Lankan highlands.
The Better Vision and Healthy Ageing Program is a collaboration of government and NGO partners and funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation. It has helped distribute more than 2000 pairs of spectacles and facilitated more than 260 cataract operations.
Vision 2020 Program Officer, Dr Raheema Ruhulla (a local collaborator) recently visited Melbourne’s Burnet offices to report on the program’s progress.
“We have found that every community is different, some have had better access to eye health care and others almost none, but all of them have had some benefit from this program,” Dr Ruhulla said.
“It has enabled older people to regain their independence and has completely changed their lives.”
To overcome the challenges of delivering eye care services in hard-to-reach communities in the Sri Lankan highlands, the program trains selected elders from each community as Eye Health Promoters.
The EHPs conduct first-phase eye screening for their peers. Elders with vision problems and suspected cataracts are referred for second-stage screening with an ophthalmic technologist or to a hospital.
The EHP strategy has enabled vision screening of more than 3500 elders through 230 clubs, with another 67 clubs yet to be screened.
CLICK HERE for more information about the Better Vision and Healthy Ageing Program.