During the last six years the Project has prescribed 5,000 pairs of glasses to the visually impaired in Mozambique and established the first ever Optometry degree programme in the country.
Hosted by Mary Kennedy ‘A Celebration of Vision’ was addressed by the Minister of State, Seán Sherlock and attended by leading international and Irish eye specialists including Prof Kovin Naidoo, Global Programme Director at the Brien Holden Institute, a partner of the MEP’s. Also attending were Mozambique’s first optometry graduates who graduated from the country’s first optometry degree programme that was established by the MEP.
Professor James Loughman, Director of the Mozambique Eye-care Project, Optometrist and Lecturer at the Department of Optometry, DIT, said: “We are delighted to have reached such a momentous stage in our Project and proud to have been instrumental in the generation of essential resources for eye-care in Mozambique over the last six years.”
Mozambique has a population of 23 million but only has 17 ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) and had no optometrists at the time of the establishment of the Mozambique Eye-care Project in 2008. By comparison in Ireland there are almost 750 optometrists and 150 ophthalmologists for a population of four million.
In 2013, the MEP established the first ever Optometry degree programme in the University of Lúrio in Mozambique and the country now has fully qualified optometrists delivering eye care to the people. Another 20 – 30 optometrists are due to graduate this year and the Project hopes to have 170 qualified Mozambican optometrists delivering eye-care in the country by 2020.
“There are approximately 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired and 39 million people are blind. More than 10% of the world’s population are without access to this simple means to restore their vision despite the fact that 80% of the visual impairment in the world can be corrected with the prescription of corrective lenses”, Prof Loughman said.
The keynote speaker at the ‘Celebration of Vision’ event in the DIT was Professor Kovin Naidoo, Global Programme Director at the Brien Holden Institute, a partner on the Project, who delivered a presentation on “Optometry education in Africa. Other speakers included Professor James Loughman, Project Leader; Professor Brian Norton, President of the DIT and Bronagh Carr, Irish Aid, who spoke on the alignment of the Mozambique Eye-care Project with Ireland’s priorities for international development.
The Mozambique Eye-care Project involves partners from the Optometry Departments at Dublin Institute of Technology and University of Ulster, in collaboration with Lúrio University in Mozambique and the Brien Holden Vision Institute in South Africa. It aims to tackle the interdependent problems of avoidable blindness and poverty in developing nations by developing and implementing a sustainable model for optometric education and eye-care service delivery in these nations.
The photobook launched provides an insightful account through images and personal stories from the academics, partners, Irish students and Mozambicans who have been involved with the Project over the last six years. The Photobook is available from the National Centre of Optometry.
Check out photos from ‘A Celebration of Vision’ here.