Muchinga is a province in Zambia that serves a population of more than 75,000 people. It is quite frankly huge. There are seven districts that make up the province with one of those, Mpika, being bigger than the whole of Malawi. Yep, pretty massive.
However, if you were to count the number of eye health workers in the province on your hands, well you can hide one behind you back, because it’s five. Just five.
Such a paltry number makes Muchinga one of the least served provinces in Zambia, which means the recently completed Vision Centre in the provincial capital, Chinsali is incredibly important and will have a huge impact on eye health for the community.
The centre has been created through a grant Pala has provided to our partner Vision Aid Overseas, a grant that in turn has been funded through the sales of our sunglasses. So, if you finish the equation it’s a success story that could only have come about as a consequence of our customers investing in our story.
The department will be moved again in in late 2018/early 2019 to become part of the new general hospital that is currently under construction. The whole project has been overseen by Karen Edwards, Country Director for Vision Aid Overseas working alongside the Provincial Medical Officer, Dr Zulu – two critical cogs in making this change happen. It’s not just a case of sprinkling fairy dust you know.
So, what has been done? Well, a lot of clearing out old store rooms, cleaning, painting, and creating all the necessary fixtures and fittings to support the new environments such a glazing room and dispensary. These in turn them have needed to be kitted out with all the requisite technical equipment and stock – enough to sustain this Centre for the next three years.
The Centre employs four people; two optical technicians, one optometry technologist and one Ophthalmic Clinical Officer.
What…. you want names?
Okay, so we have Modester and Precious (see smiley people below) who work full time in the Vision Centre. There’s Chipo, a full-time optometry technologist prescribing glasses to be made in the Centre and then finally there is Goodson the Ophthalmic Clinical Officer who prescribes glasses as part of his general eye health work. That’s your ‘A-Team’ right there.
As well as testing patients and prescribing spectacles the Chinsali Team have been able to support other qualified Ophthalmic Nurses in the region, so the benefits extend beyond just the Centre. Assignments deeper into the remote districts have had great success, with nurses being able to see more than 100 patients per day – eye-watering (pun intended)!
For Pala this what it is all about. The simplicity of creating real change through our eyewear and bringing these stories back to you so you can see what we can achieve together. Dr Zulu is already asking if there’s a chance for a second Vision Centre elsewhere in the province…there will always be an insatiable demand for help and so it becomes our challenge to do the best we can to deliver on that.
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