HANOI, Vietnam –
Over 15,000 primary and secondary students in Quoc Oai district of Hanoi have received vision screenings with those in need receiving quality eyeglasses under an eye care project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through a grant provided to Advancing and Partners Communities/JSI.
“Child blindness and visual impairment are preventable and treatable,” said USAID Mission Director Joakim Parker. “USAID is proud to support Helen Keller International (HKI)-Vietnam and the Departments of Health and Education and Training as they work to improve child eye care and prevent visual impairment among Vietnamese children. Such assistance is an important part of our work to expand individual opportunities in Vietnam to protect health and improve well-being.”
Out of the students and teachers in 27 primary and secondary schools screened for vision problem, 10 percent have been identified with refractive errors and 1,015 (84 percent) students with uncorrected refractive error have been provided with quality eyeglasses. In addition, approximately 300 teachers with refractive errors have also received eyeglasses from the project. The Childsight program, implemented by HKI-Vietnam, has also trained 73 school and community health workers in vision screening, four district refractionists and provided ophthalmic instruments to Ha Dong Eye Hospital, the Health Center and the General Hospital of Quoc Oai district to improve their eye health services.
The project has addressed gaps in the current eye health system in western districts of Hanoi and developed a comprehensive and sustainable system of care for children that can be adopted by the departments of Health and Education and Training and replicated throughout Vietnam.
Uncorrected refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) are a significant cause of visual impairment, blindness and disability, especially in developing countries. It is estimated that one in five Vietnamese children suffers from refractive error, yet the vast majority remain undiagnosed and untreated. Left untreated, refractive error can worsen and may lead to blindness and irreversible vision loss, particularly in young children.
First implemented in Kon Tum Province, HKI’s Childsight program has now expanded to Hanoi’s rural districts and Nam Dinh Province and has provided services to over 75,000 students and about 5,000 quality eyeglasses have been provided to students and teachers with uncorrected refractive error.
Today, a project review workshop was held in Quoc Oai. In attendance were representatives from the Hanoi Departments of Health and Education, Ha Dong Eye Hospital, Quoc Oai Health Department, Quoc Oai General Hospital, USAID, beneficiary schools and HKI-Vietnam staff. Participants discussed the results, lessons learnt and recommendations to improve the program in the future.