Rwanda has successfully provided universal eye care to all of its 12 million citizens, through a partnership between the government and the organization Vision for a Nation.
The achievement makes it the first “low-income nation” to do so.
The groundbreaking partnership has trained over 3,000 eye nurses in over 500 health clinics. Every one of Rwanda's roughly 15,000 villages has been visited by a qualified nurse.
In 2002, Rwanda signed into effect the VISION 2020 initiative, which aimed to eliminate preventable blindness, a plan which has since been upgraded through various partnerships.
Providing universal eye check-ups is a major step toward preventing blindness, which can be economically devastating for those it affects in very poor, rural areas. With nearly 80 percent of visual impairment being preventable, according to the World Health Organization, eye care is a practical and significant step to improve public health and livelihood.
In developing countries with poor access to eye-care, failing vision after age 45 can destroy the income of a family, which often relies on coffee harvesting and other forms of work that require good vision.
“We’ve found that 34 percent of the population in Rwanda could benefit from some form of eye care. This ranges from very minor symptoms [to] those requiring life-changing surgery,” Dr Jennifer Yip from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said to The Guardian.