South Africa


South Africa is home to an enormous blind population and has a severe shortage of ophthalmologists who serve South Africans living in rural areas. In all of South Africa, most of the 324 ophthalmologists work in populous cities. The remaining few ophthalmologists that work in rural areas are serving the majority of the population. Countrywide, there are merely a few fully qualified paediatric ophthalmologists.


• Orbis Africa is developing specialised services for children’s eye health.

• We’re focusing on early intervention with children under the age of six, while their sight is still developing.

• We’re speeding up the detection of eye-health problems in young children and fast-tracking their treatment and follow-up care.

• We’ve partnered with the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Cape Town, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and other thought leaders to develop a specialist paediatric fellowship programme for African doctors.


To combat this lack of available eye care, we established an office in Cape Town to develop specialised services for children’s eye health and lead the way for a sustainable, comprehensive model for paediatric eye care that is accessible, high quality and affordable.

We supported the opening of a paediatric eye care center in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest and most populous provinces and home to 28 percent of the country’s blind children.

We are working with the Department of Health in Gauteng to strengthen child eye health services in Gauteng province. In order to achieve this, the first priority is to strengthen adult cataract services. This will be done by improving surgical skills at making equipment more available at tertiary care facilities in the province.

We’ve also partnered with South Africa’s Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to survey one million households within the poorest communities and explore the link between poverty and vision loss.

And we’re initiating an extensive public awareness campaign in the mainstream and community press highlighting childhood blindness and steps the public can take to avoid unnecessarily blindness.


• In 2011, we opened our state-of-the-art Paediatric Eye Care Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa’s poorest and most populous provinces, and home to 28 percent of the country’s blind children.

• This center makes KwaZulu-Natal only the second province to have a child-focused eye care facility in the country.

Read our latest success story from South Africa here: Six Figure Cash Injection Strengthens Eye Healthcare In KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


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