The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country named after the Zambezi river but was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia. It borders eight other countries, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and Tanzania.
Zambia’s economy is dependent on its mining sector, particularly copper although there are many natural resources including gemstones, zinc and gold. Agriculture and tourism also contribute to the economy with agriculture contributing around 25 per cent of the GDP but employing around 85 per cent of the workforce.
Eye diseases are among the 10 major causes of high morbidity in Zambia. It’s estimated that there are over 120,000 blind people in Zambia and 3 million people with uncorrected refractive error.
Vision Aid Overseas is a member of the National Prevention of Blindness Committee and plays a key role in the development of optometry services in the country. Collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Sightsavers we have developed an on-going three year diploma course in optometry at the Chainama College of Health Sciences in Lusaka.
Together with our partners and the support of Specsavers we have recently opened a new training facility at the college where students can undergo practical training. We also carry out in-service training in refraction for existing eye care staff such as nurses, ophthalmic clinical officers and ophthalmic nurses.
We currently have two Vision Centres in partnership with the Ministry of Health; one in Lusaka province at University Teaching Hospital and one in Central province at Kabwe General Hospital. We will support the development of a Vision Centre in each of Zambia’s nine provinces by 2014.