This June, Standing Voice delivered its latest large-scale vision clinic of 2017, in Dar es Salaam. This event is part of our continued commitment to ensuring people with albinism are not inhibited by visual impairment by providing comprehensive eye care through our Vision Programme. The event also marks the fifth vision clinic delivered since the Essilor Vision for Life and Standing Voice partnership began in March 2016.
Over six days, 465 people with albinism attended the Dar es Salaam vision event and received a specialist low vision eye examination, tailored vision devices such as prescription glasses, sunglasses and magnifiers, and educational sessions and literature around the management of low vision and correct use of prescribed devices. 249 pairs of glasses were prescribed, with more than 80% of these delivered immediately on-site. Hundreds of pairs of sunglasses, monoculars, and magnifiers were also disseminated.
This clinic was delivered by a team of Tanzanian optometrists, led by Standing Voice Vision Programme Director and world-leading albinism expert Dr Rebecca Kammer and Standing Voice Programmes Manager Jamie Walling.
Standing Voice inducted a new optometrist into the Vision Programme, another significant achievement as we continue to develop local capacity to care for the unique vision needs of people with albinism.
We were delighted to be visited by a delegation of government representatives from the Tanzanian Social Action Fund—headed by Mr Amadeus Kamagenge (Director of Community Support)—who reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the Vision Programme through in-kind support such as venue space. We were similarly grateful to welcome Muderis Abdulahi Mohammed, Senior Social Protection Specialist at the World Bank.
On Friday 9th June, representatives from national media including ITV, Azam TV and Clouds Media Group attended the vision event to document the clinic activities with TV broadcasts aired that same evening. Journalists interviewed a range of stakeholders at the clinic including patients, optometrists, Standing Voice and Essilor Vision for Life representatives, and our partners from the Tanzania Albinism Society.
On Monday 12th June, Standing Voice delivered the latest cycle of its Vision Ambassador Training Scheme. Over one day, we trained 23 teachers to advocate for the welfare of students with albinism in their schools, deepening participants' understanding of the visual impairment associated with albinism together with inclusive teaching practices. These ambassadors also facilitate continued monitoring and evaluation of the Vision Programme through submission of regular reports to Standing Voice.
To date, a nationwide network of 57 teachers have been trained as Standing Voice Vision Ambassadors in Tanzania.
During the clinic, we also hosted Dr. Mugisha Toni, a Burundian ophthalmologist based at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam. Dr. Mugisha and his colleague used our clinic as a testing ground for their study into the broader eye health of people with albinism in Tanzania, measuring eye pressure, axial length, and retinal function. Through this research, Standing Voice continues to contribute to the advancement of global knowledge around the unique visual impairment of people with albinism.
To all of our partners and supporters: thank you! Together, we move one step closer to ensuring full prosperity and equality for people with albinism across Africa.
All images credited to Ezekiel Mkusa, Hamidu Issa and Standing Voice.