Childhood blindness prevention project launched
On 18 June WHO announced the launch of a global project for the prevention of blindness in children, financed by the Lions Clubs International Foundation. About 500 000 children go blind every year, and half of these cases are preventable. Primary health care approaches that can reduce childhood blindness include immunization against measles and rubella, better nutrition, timely prophylaxis against eye infections in the newborn caused by diseases such as gonococcal infection, and avoidance of harmful eye medicines. Surgery is needed for conditions such as cataract, corneal opacities and glaucoma.
More surgeons who can treat these conditions are needed, as well as provision for early detection and increased access to treatment. The five-year project will focus on training health workers in prevention, early detection and treatment in 30 countries in all six of the WHO regions. It will also establish centres for children's eye care in these countries.