The Ugandan government is helping with an initiative that will provide free eye examinations for its citizens that are 65 years of age or older. And if needed, the program allows for these older citizens to be referred for medication or surgery to treat serious eye conditions like cataracts and trachoma.
The initiative began in the latter part of May and is a collaborative effort between the non-profit Sightsavers, along with its partners, and the Expanded Social Protection Program of the Ugandan government. The program targets Ugandans over the age of 65 due to the fact that this group has been identified as being most susceptible to diseases of the eye.
Johnson Ngorok, the director for Sightsavers Uganda, says that the effort has been effective at meeting the needs of Uganda’s population most in need if the services. Ngorok went on to express his gratitude for the Diamond Jubilee Trust of Queen Elizabeth and other aid from the United Kingdom that has made it possible for thousands of Ugandan citizens to receive life-changing treatment for eye disorders.
The ESP program in Uganda has been in place since 2010 and is operated by the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development. The program receives support from United Kindom Aid as well as Irish Aid. The goal of the program is to reduce age-related poverty by providing a modest pension known in Uganda as the senior citizen’s grant to Ugandan’s 65 years of age and older. The age limit is lowered to 60 in the country’s poorest region of Karamoja.
Stephen Kasaija is the top man of the ESP program and says that the targeted population of the program is extremely vulnerable to the effects of disease and disability. He says that future efforts of the ESP program will center around the exploration of partnerships that will provide beneficiaries of the program access to services for the disabled. Kasaija says that the Sightsavers organization is sure to be a large part of these future plans.
Dr. Astrid Bonfield, who is the Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Trust, is thankful to the governments of both the UK and Uganda for helping to bring quality healthcare to the region and stopping in its tracks diseases like trachoma that has unnecessarily blinded so many people. Bonfield also expressed his gratitude for the Sightsavers organization.
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