The Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology was established in 2001 in response to the “VISION 2020: The Right to Sight” initiative – a global campaign aimed at eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
To this day, KCCO has continued to contribute to global efforts to reduce the burden of avoidable blindness in Africa. KCCO is a member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC).
An estimated 36 million people were blind in 2015 while 217 million people lived with severe or moderate visual impairment (MSVI). 89% of visually impaired people live in low and middle-income countries. Globally, 55% of visually impaired people are women, but we know that gender differences in the experienced burden of eye diseases are significant in most low and low-middle countries – in some settings blind women outnumber blind men by about two to one. The loss of sight poses an enormous burden on the affected individuals and their families. On a broader scale, this also represents a public health, social, and economic issue for the countries where these people live.
The good news is that 80% of global blindness is avoidable. It can be prevented or cured using technology and knowledge that is already available today. KCCO works with Ministries of Health, local partner hospitals and other NGOs to implement community-oriented programmes that are effective and efficient to ensure that patients get access to high-quality eye care services. We pay close attention not only to the clinical service delivery components and outcomes but also to the different factors that must be in place for the implementation of sustainable high-quality eye health programmes, such as effective hospital management and community mobilization strategies.