Promoting inclusive eye care services in Vietnam
CBM Australia promotes inclusive eye health programs in Vietnam. This means ensuring their programs are accessible to all members of the community, including people with disability and others who are marginalised and socially excluded. Their work is done in support of national health systems and policies to ensure a sustainable approach.
In Dien Bien Province, their Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) project has improved the quality of and access to eye health services for remote communities and people with disability.
The project – finishing in March 2021 – was recently evaluated by independent consultants. They assessed the changes brought about by the project and found them to be significant.
Ophthalmologists are now better trained to address more complex surgeries, and a regular cycle of outreach clinics to remote areas has meant the backlog of people needing simple cataract surgeries has declined considerably.
The project also improved referral pathways between hospitals, community health centres and the relevant government departments.
“The approach is now so much more patient-centred. Referral times are so much shorter, because the hospital teams call the clinic directly, with all the details and the paperwork,” explained a community care nurse.
People who have permanent visual impairment that can’t be addressed by surgery are now linked with programs in the Social Affairs Department. This means they are able to access livelihood support schemes and receive occupational therapy and devices. Rather than being turned away, people now have options for ongoing support to manage blindness.
The work in Dien Bien has developed a comprehensive model for eye health that can be used in other areas.
“Health staff are much more proactive in listening to our issues”, said one elderly man with a mobility impairment. “This hasn’t happened before.”