After 17 successful years working in French speaking Burkina Faso to improve access to eye care services, Vision Aid Overseas celebrates the conclusion of its programme and looks back on some of the highlights.

With only three qualified optometrists for a population of 18.5 million people, Burkina Faso has one of the lowest optometrists to patient ratios in the world. Vision Aid Overseas’ latest phase of work in Burkina Faso which commenced in 2013 and was funded by Fondation L’Occitane, aimed to advance eye care services in the Centre-Ouest region of the country.

Anne Buglass, Director of Programmes at Vision Aid Overseas explained;

Together with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, the programme had three key objectives; 1) to increase the number of people receiving eye care; 2) to establish and support two Vision Centres (Kossodo and Koudougou) to provide eye tests and glasses; 3) to make glasses affordable to the population served by the two Vision Centres.


In 2013, Vision Aid Overseas established a glasses dispensary in Koudougou Regional Hospital that provides free eye tests and low-cost readymade glasses. A year later, in 2014, the eye care organisation expanded the programme by establishing a Vision Centre with an integrated optical glazing workshop at Kossodo hospital in the capital Ouagadougou that enabled the manufacturing and dispensing of prescription glasses onsite.  The staff at the Vision centres also received training in refraction, dispensing, glazing, stock control and data management.

Ms Buglass continued;

With much hard work and collaboration, we are happy to report that the end of the programme in 2017, the number of people screened for eye conditions vastly exceeded our target. We were able to train five Ophthalmic Nurses in refraction and dispensing, screen over 22,000 people for eye conditions, deliver over 3,000 eye tests and dispense over 2,700 pairs of glasses, transforming the lives of thousands of children and adults in the centre-ouest of the country. It was very encouraging to see such a positive uptake of glasses from those that were given a prescription.

One of the patients whose benefited from the work of Vision Aid Overseas in Burkina Faso is secondary school student, Omarou pictured. Like many young men, Omarou enjoys playing and watching football. However, before Omarou was seen by Vision Aid Overseas, not only did he struggle to watch football on the television, but he also struggled to see the blackboard clearly at school to learn properly. Fortunately for Omarou, the Kossodo Vision Centre wasn’t far from his home, where he received an eye test and glasses to restore his vision. Omarou told us;

My new glasses make such a difference! I can see the scores on the television and I can now sit further away from the blackboard. Everything looks much clearer now!

Ms Buglass concluded;

We would like to thank all our supporters, volunteers and especially Fondation L’Occitane for supporting us in bringing clear vision to the lives of people in Burkina Faso. The Kossodo and Koudougou Vision Centres have been operating successfully together over the past year and we are extremely proud of the progress made in Burkina Faso in a relatively short space of time. Although Vision Aid Overseas has now finished this piece of work in Burkina Faso, we will continue to follow the progress and provide support where possible.

Vision Aid Overseas continues to support the development of sustainable eye care services in four African countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia. Over the next three years, the charity will focus on expanding their current programmes to enable people living in poverty to access eye care at primary level and will also expand on their advocacy and programme work centered on Child Eye Health.

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