Christian optometry mission to the developing world

Vision Centres (ECAP)

Mission for Vision has created a new division, Eye Clinics for Africa Programme (ECAP), which is committed to the development of permanent vision centres in the more remote regions of Africa - predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This division will be supervised by Congolese optometrist Dieudonne Odimba Lumbi BSc (Hons) MCOptom FBDO CL who, in this video, is narrating in French (the official language in DR Congo) and explaining the objectives of ECAP.

The Need:

By far the greatest cause of visual impairment in the developing world is refractive error, a condition that can be corrected simply with a pair of glasses. Most aid that is given to these regions goes towards the ophthalmology sector which deals more with eye disease and cataract surgery and although there is a great need for this, the need for the provision of corrective eyewear which effects and benefits the younger generations is, percentage wise a lot greater. In our experience of carrying out eye care programs all over Africa we have found that around 5 to 8% of those we saw required hospital treatment whereas over 70% simply needed glasses and yet the facilities and the infrastructure for supplying such was virtually non existent especially in the rural areas.

One solution:

Mission for Vision is now concentrating its efforts on providing training that will enable local people to supply basic but effective primary eye care services to their own communities. This involves the setting up and equipping of vision centres that will be able to offer eye testing, screening for glaucoma, the assessment of cataracts and the provision of glasses. We believe that the need is so extreme and complex that we have to tackle it outside the current formal education system. We believe It should be possible to train up students in about 12 months and we will be working with local Government and Health departments to develop a course that will be recognised and enable us to start the process of introducing education in optometry. The training centres will draw students from the poor rural communities and will eventually equip them to set up other eye clinics within their own communities.

It is an ambitious program and we need to get as many eye care professionals on board to participate in the delivery of this training either on a short or longer term basis. Mission for Vision is endeavouring to raise the funding required to salary an optometrist to work on a full time basis to oversee the program.

Kinshasa in the D R Congo is the location for our first dedicated training centre which hopefully will be up and running in 2015. The first students to en role are coming from Nigeria where Mission for Vision partnered with New Foundations in setting up its first vision centre in 2013 in the remote Delta District.