Approximately 30% of Dhaka’s population live in poor urban communities and squatters’ colonies, where poor housing, high population density, a lack of environmental services such as water and sanitation, low socio-economic status and insecure tenures are commonplace. These communities often lack the basic needs required for good health and quality of life.
Cataract blindness was identified as the major cause of blindness amongst adults (over 30 years old) in Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh National Blindness and Low Vision Survey (2003). Approximately 4,200 people per million of the population are blind due to cataract. Using an estimate of 12 million for Dhaka’s population, the number of adult cataract cases in Dhaka is about 50,400, with 10,000 new cases occurring each year. Amongst the urban poor, the number of cataract cases in Dhaka is about 15,120 bilateral cases, around 22,000 unilateral cases, and an annual incidence of around 3,000 cases. The estimated number of child cataract cases is 1,200 with bilateral blindness and 1,800 with unilateral blindness.
Sightsavers International with support from Standard Chartered Bank under its “Seeing is Believing” initiative is implementing Dhaka Urban Comprehensive Eye Care Project (DUCECP) in partnership with Islamia Eye Hospital located at Farmgate as lead hospital coordinating three more hospital partners in Dhaka City.
As Shiree is working for the graduation of extreme poor people in slums of Dhaka city, there are some people living with the avoidable blindness like cataract. These people are losing their sight unnecessarily and becoming more vulnerable in terms of earning livelihoods. It pushes them deep into the vicious cycle of poverty. Considering the fact, Shiree made partnership with DUCECP and recently few beneficiaries of DSK-Shiree project from Korail slum got restored their eye sight. Thus shiree is trying to address and confront different interrelated multidimensional issues of extreme poverty throughout its approaches.
Ojufa (55) is one among these beneficiaries. There was a Patient Screening Programme (PSP) in Korail on June 18, 2012. She went through surgery in her right eye on June 20, 2012 at Islamia Eye Hospital and got her sight back. Several other beneficiaries of DSK-Shiree project also got such treatment for their eyes free of cost.