A new public-private partnership (PPP) is giving the community of Dlamini in Soweto and its surrounding areas improved access to eye care services via primary healthcare centres.

The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) partnered with Brien Holden Vision Institute and Standard Chartered Bank as part of the Seeing is Believing campaign and Vision Service Plan Global (VSP Global) to improve eye health and early detection.

To date, 72,709 adults and 16,886 children in the community have been examined by optometrists and a total of 25,130 adults and 6,583 children received spectacles. A total of 190 low vision assistive devices were also dispensed.

“Historically, eye health services and professionals were only available at tertiary levels of care. Due to late diagnosis, there was a large number of eye health disease complications and admissions,” said Chief Director in the Johannesburg Health District, Mogeru Morewane.

“I can certainly inform you that our facilities are readily available for the community to access these services,” continued Morewane.

The eye care initiative is in line with Vision 2020, an initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that was launched in 1999 to eliminate the causes of preventable blindness by the year 2020.

“The number of people blind due to avoidable causes of blindness like cataract, refractive error and glaucoma is increasing every year. To enable the GDoH to achieve the prescripts of Vision 2020, it is imperative that people are educated on the importance of eye health and screening to avoid complications in later stages,” said Morewane.

Early detection of eye conditions can lead to earlier treatment interventions, helping patients avoid complications and even unnecessary blindness. Treating patients’ minor eye issues or vision loss is also more cost effective than treating them when their condition deteriorates.

“We are delighted to contribute sustainably to the eradication of treatable and avoidable blindness in South Africa’s poorest communities through our Seeing is Believing project,” concluded Morewane.

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