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The Gambia eye care programme

This step discusses a plan that became a model for the global VISION 2020 programme.

The first 10 years of the Gambia eye care programme saw blindness in the country reduced by 40%. More than 2,000 people were saved from blindness and the cost of doing it was actually less than 10 cents per person per year.

In this video Professor Allen Foster describes the steps that Dr Hannah Faal, an ophthalmologist from the Gambia, took to develop and implement this plan and explains why it became a model for the global VISION 2020 programme to end avoidable blindness.

As you watch, reflect on how Dr Faal used epidemiological information to support public health eye care development in the Gambia.


The epidemiological data from the first survey provided information on magnitude, age, and geographic distribution and the main causes of visual impairment in the Gambia. It was used to shape a successful service delivery programme.

What are the strengths of population based data to initiate change and which stakeholders do you think should be involved?

Human resource development was key to the success of the Gambia Eye programme. Over 1000 village health workers (‘nyateros’, or friends of the eye) were trained in primary eye care, health promotion, identification, and referral of cataract and trachoma cases. All nurses also received some training in eye care and some specialised as community ophthalmic nurses. Development of mid-level health personnel as cataract surgeons improved availability and accessibility to services and the programme was not dependant on the few ophthalmologists available.

What are your thoughts on the human resource development approach?

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Global Blindness: Planning and Managing Eye Care Services

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