We are delighted to announce our latest collaboration with Lavelle Fund for the Blind. Over the next 2.5-years the Lavelle Fund will support critical financial and technical investments, enabling the CCBRT team to scale the provision of low cost, high quality services to people living with blindness or visual impairment in Tanzania, and to sustain these critical services for future generations.

Photo credit: Sala Lewis

Blindness and visual impairment in Tanzania

  • In Tanzania, an estimated 1.1 million people are visually impaired and 33,000 are blind.
  • With an average household size of five, at least 4.7 million people are directly affected by blindness and visual impairment in Tanzania.
  • Up to 70% of cases of blindness or visual impairment can be treated or cured with surgery, medical intervention or assistive devices, but access to quality services is limited.
  • CCBRT’s immediate catchment area, Dar es Salaam, is one of the fastest growing urban centers in Africa, and Tanzania’s largest city. Dar es Salaam is on track to become a megacity, with a population of 10 million by 2025.
  • Though poverty rates have declined in recent years, about 12 million Tanzanians still live in extreme poverty, earning less than $0.60 per day.

Without intervention, individuals with preventable or treatable blindness and visual impairment struggle to access vital healthcare services, education or employment opportunities and are often excluded from community life. CCBRT provides high quality, affordable, comprehensive outpatient and surgical care to thousands of people every year to either restore their vision or provide long term support to people with permanent vision loss, enabling them to fully participate in their community. CCBRT is the largest provider of ophthalmology services in Tanzania, and its Disability Hospital in Dar es Salaam is one of only three facilities equipped to provide pediatric ophthalmology services nationwide. More than 60,000 people a year currently rely on CCBRT’s services, and Dar es Salaam’s growth means demand continues to increase.

Photo credit: Sala Lewis

Working together with global experts
Leveraging the advice and expertise of esteemed advisors from the world of social enterprise and sustainable eye care, the goal is to use investments in equipment, staff training, community outreach and facility refurbishment to increase both volume-driven patient revenue and efficiency-driven cost-savings. This will facilitate a 70% increase in the volume of cataract surgeries currently performed at the hospital and double the number of patients that receive care at no charge, while also reducing CCBRT’s dependence on volatile external aid.

The partnership will convene a technical advisory group comprised of three visionary leaders in the field of sustainable eye care. Mr. David Green, a MacArthur Fellow and Ashoka Fellow, helped develop the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, the largest eye care system in the world and a blueprint for sustainable eye care in the Global South. Dr. Levi Kandeke is a pediatric ophthalmologist and pioneer of sustainable eye care in Burundi, East Africa. Ms. Penny Lyons is Executive Director of Seva Canada Society, an international eye care organization that provides funding and expertise to eye care partners and institutions worldwide.

CCBRT is not only Tanzania’s largest provider of many core eye care services, it is also one with an exemplary record of service quality,” said Daniel Callahan, Board President at Lavelle Fund for the Blind. The Lavelle Fund is proud to be supporting CCBRT and its partner Kupona Foundation in their current initiative to drive increased eye care volume, efficiency, affordability, and sustainability at CCBRT Disability Hospital. We’re also delighted to see the contributions of experts like David Green and the team at Seva Canada, as we facilitate knowledge exchange from a range of successful sustainable eye care initiatives across the world.”

This partnership, combining financial resources and ongoing technical support from world-renowned experts, will ensure that CCBRT can reach more people in need of affordable, high quality, specialized services to restore their sight, while investing in organizational sustainability. This partnership is about ensuring that critical, high quality healthcare services are not only available today and tomorrow, but in ten years’ time.

The official press release for this announcement is available here.