On 7 February, an opening ceremony was held in Juba to mark the construction of South Sudan’s first paediatric eye ward. “The Bright Sight” is the name of the cooperation project financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), led by CBM Italy, in collaboration with the NGOs Doctors with Africa CUAMM and CORDAID and the participation of the South Sudanese Ministry of Health.
Up to now, the fate of South Sudanese children in need of eye care has been to be transferred to hospitals in neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, in the event of financial availability, or to receive no treatment at all with possible subsequent blindness. Despite the fact that 80% of cases of visual impairment in South Sudan are preventable, in fact, the main causes of blindness are due to undiagnosed diseases, contributing to feeding the vicious circle that links poverty and disability.
With the new project, aimed in particular at the most fragile categories of the population and people with disabilities, the plan is to construct the building – at the Buluk Eye Centre (BEC), the country’s first eye centre, opened eight years ago in Juba by CBM – in three years, purchase furniture and equipment, and also train medical staff and set up mobile eye clinics.
The project’s objectives also include strengthening practices for the prevention of Neglected Tropical Diseases (infectious diseases that affect people living in poverty, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis) in the most vulnerable communities, the consolidation of proximity health services with the widespread distribution of inclusive and accessible eye care services, the treatment of complex pathologies and rehabilitation activities.
Thanks to the Italian Cooperation, CBM was the first organisation to bring eye care to South Sudan.
In 2015, the Italian Cooperation began funding CBM to open South Sudan’s first eye centre, the Buluk Eye Centre (BEC), which has since been helping to reduce blindness in the country by providing functioning and quality eye care services, both at the BEC and in schools and IDP camps.
Through the new paediatric hospital, The Bright Sight aims to treat more than 36,000 children under the age of 15.