FALLBROOK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Since 2001, the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) has been working to restore sight to millions of people in developing countries throughout Africa. This year, their efforts to change the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people on the planet have won them and their partner organizations, Seva Canada and Seva Foundation, the prestigious Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award. Considered the “Nobel Prize” of the vision care world, the Champalimaud award is presented for outstanding contributions towards the prevention and alleviation of blindness and visual impairment, primarily in developing countries.
With more than 39 million blind people worldwide and 80 per cent of cases preventable, treatable or curable, KCCO is working toward completing their vision of a continent where all Africans can access high quality patient-centered efforts toward sustainable and quality eye care services that are provided by Africans for Africans.
“Vision loss affects 21 million Africans; most of which is either preventable or treatable,” says Paul Courtright, KCCO director. “We cannot solve this problem in one or 10 years. Thoughtful, sustained investment in good leadership, supportive management and pro-active community engagement is needed.”
Working in developing countries, KCCO creates sustainable cost-recovery eye care models to strengthen health systems to provide high-quality eye care now and into the future, independent of external support. As a result of this long-term approach, African programs have quadrupled the number of people receiving sight-restoring surgery while improving their own organizational and financial sustainability.
In addition to their international efforts, KCCO’s research initiatives have led to strategies to overcome gender, economic and geographic barriers to ensure universal access to eye care is available for all. For example, it was discovered that cataracts, the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, were disproportionally impacting women. This statistic was only identified because of KCCO’s research, which found that women develop cataracts at the same frequency as men, but because they have less access to available services, the effects are much more severe.
“There are no lines of people waiting for eye care services in Africa,” says Courtright. “People are slowly but surely going blind in villages so we work with programs to find ways to bridge communities with providers.”
A leader in evidence-based, proven, effective and innovative approaches to eye care in Africa, KCCO was the first organization to develop strategies to reduce gender inequity in eye care services. With this award, KCCO intends to continue strengthening the capacity of effective and efficient eye care programs, strengthen the delivery of eye care, focus on universal access/equity, and generate evidence to inform strategies that they will continue to share worldwide.
About Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology
The Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology was established in 2001 by Drs Paul Courtright and Susan Lewallen in response to the VISION 2020 initiative. Our vision for eye care in Africa is a continent where all Africans can access high quality patient-centered effort toward sustainable and quality eye care services that are provided by Africans for Africans. To this end, our mission is to strengthen African health systems and partnerships through the provision of eye health training, the conduct of research, the facilitation of planning, and change implementation to achieve the goals of VISION 2020 and GET 2020.