Tag Archives: inclusion

Hurricane Matthew – Green shoots of recovery

This blog piece is written by Katleen Jeanty, a communications consultant working with CBM to cover Hurrican Matthew in the Caribbean.

Three days. That’s how long it took. Three days to fully recover – both physically and emotionally – from what I experienced during my trip to Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, just two weeks after Hurricane Matthew made landfall. I had the honour of accompanying a team from CBM’s Haiti office that went to assess how people with disabilities dealt with the hurricane and determine what were their needs and priorities. As a communications professional, I went along with a photographer to capture and tell their stories.

The category-four hurricane hit the already vulnerable island nation on October 4, 2016, leaving in its wake a trail of devastation not seen in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Videos and pictures started circulating on social media almost immediately, showing the sheer power of Mother Nature. Powerful winds mowed down trees, ripped off roofs and lifted entire homes from their foundations. Rivers swelled, swallowing anything and everything in their paths…homes, roads, bridges, trees, livestock, residents.Survivors are left in need of rebuildingtheir lives, from fixing their homes to assuring they have enough food to eat tofinding ways to make a living to take care of their families.

Hurricane Matthew Haiti 2016 Images taken during needs assessment visit to southwestern regions of the country - including Les Cayes and Jérémie - from 16 to 21 October This image shows Alexis Joseph, CBM Accessibility Program Manager and and Katleen Jeanty (Communications), during focus group discussion.

This image shows Alexis Joseph, CBM Accessibility Program Manager and Katleen Jeanty (Communications – on the left), during focus group discussion at a needs assessment visit after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti.

Although I was nervous in the days leading up to the trip, as I didn’t know what we would see or how I would process the stories we’d hear, stories I knew would be heart-breaking, I couldn’t wait to go. So, I prepared as much as I could and at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 16th, I waited to be picked up to start the estimated seven-hour journey. All along the road, as we got closer to the impacted area, I started looking for signs of destruction. And literally, just like that, about 3.5 hours in, we saw the first set of downed trees and damaged houses – those either missing roofs or completely flattened. But even with all of the pictures and videos we saw, nothing could have prepared us for what awaited us.

As we left the town of Les Cayes and got close to entering the city of Jérémie, our final destination for the day, we were left speechless. Complete devastation. Town after town, it was the same story, damaged trees, buildings and lives.

During our week-long trip, which had to be cut short due to extreme flooding from days of non-stop torrential downpours,we participated in coordination meetings at the Departmental Emergency Operation Centres (COUD), with the Coordinators of the Civil Protection Department (DPC) and the President’s Departmental Representative of the Grand Anse and South departments. During these meetings, we discussed the immediate need for food, water, medicine, corrugated metal and tarp to assist residents in the outskirts now, with long-term needs for economic opportunities, especially for people with disabilities. The most shocking outcome of that meeting was learning that there are areas that have no houses standing and that residents in those have taken to sleeping in graves and caves.

We also met with several Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) across the area, traveling at times up to three hours each way to assess their capacities to support their members, and had the opportunity to hear the heart-breaking stories from the members themselves. We also witnessed aid starting to reach some of the affected communities, although not specifically people with disabilities. But with so many hard-to-access villages, it may be weeks before some of these victims see anyone. Nonetheless, we were extremely happy to see several organisations and missionaries on the ground, mobilising to distribute food, provide medical attention and medicine to the sick and injured, as well as home improvement materials for those affected to start boarding up their houses.

Is it enough? Absolutely not! The need down there is enormous and people’s lives are at stake.

Most impressive though? The amount of local Haitians we saw working with these organizations. Again, is it enough? Far from it, but we started and that’s what’s most important! Now to keep it going, especially for those who were most affected.

I’m happy to have been involved in this early work. And I look forward to seeing how CBM, with its partners, ensures that people with disabilities, their families, and other community members are identified and supported to recover from the hurricane.

Finally, again on the bright side, as we left the greater south, we literally saw the shoots of recovery: We noticed that many of the trees that were brown and completely bare from losing their leaves on Sunday when we first got there, have already starting sprouting bright green new baby leaves.

Just a little reminder that there is always hope as long as there is life!

More reading:

Leanie, who works with a local Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) in Haiti, lost her house and livelihood during hurricane Matthew. She is matter-of-fact about the situation, saying “I just want to go back to being able to take care of myself”. Read her story here.

Mitigating barriers in comprehensive eye care

In our 3rd and last piece for our blog series on the 10th IAPB General Assembly (10GA), Dr. Manfred Moerchen (Regional Advisor for Inclusive Eye Health in the Philippines) talks about mitigating barriers in comprehensive eye care.

Blindness and low vision have been identified as an important global cause of the years lived with disability, and empowerment of people who are blind or have low vision is one of the key cross-cutting principles of the WHO Global Action Plan 2014-2019 (“Universal Eye Health”). As only 2% of people in lower income countries have access to basic services and rehabilitation, CBM strives to improve the access for everybody, including people with all types of disabilities, to eye health programmes and to make sure that people with unavoidable blindness and visual impairment have access to low vision services and rehabilitation.

8 year old May has cataract in both her eyes and is nearly blind. She attends an inclusive school in the Philippines. Here she is being examined by Dr. Manfred Moerchen the day before her surgery.

8 year old May has cataract in both her eyes and is nearly blind. She attends an inclusive school in the Philippines. Here she is being examined by Dr. Manfred Moerchen the day before her surgery.

I was trained as an ophthalmologist in the nineties at a tertiary eye hospital in Germany, equipped with all types of state-of-the art expensive equipment. One day, when celebrating World Sight Day, we invited a self-help group of patients with unavoidable visual impairment. They were impressed by the technical possibilities but told us that it was difficult to orientate in the eye department as the building had obviously not been designed to facilitate access for people with visual impairment.

 

As an ophthalmologist, I was ashamed that even in one of the richest countries in the world we failed to address the needs of patients who needed assistance beyond purely medical treatment.

It strikes me that 15 years later, we still struggle with the same barriers to a holistic eye health service. Eye hospitals are designed without involving people with disabilities in planning. Access to phaco surgery is now often easier than access to low vision devices and people whose sight cannot be restored are constantly not referred to rehabilitation. Again, much more work is needed to mitigate barriers for people with additional impairments: How do we communicate with a cataract patient who is hearing impaired? Do we make sure that patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Usher Syndrome are referred to a hearing test? How do we communicate with a patient with Down Syndrome and refractive error?

The GA course will inform 10GA delegates about CBM’s approach to improve disability inclusive practices for strengthening comprehensive eye care with practical examples from eye health projects in Africa and Asia. For instance, delegates will gain insight into how a tertiary eye hospital can improve inclusive practices by employing people with visual impairment, by involving people with all types of disability in improving physical accessibility and by collaborating with Disability People Organizations in mass screening for cataract in the communities.

The 10GA has been an excellent opportunity to share experiences, discuss opportunities and challenges and elaborate on further steps. Practical examples have proven that this is possible, even for programmes with limited financial budget! We have also discussed the challenging aspect of monitoring inclusion to make sure that patients with disabilities are represented in our data and how that might contribute to Universal Eye Health. The goal to further reduce blindness and visual impairment will not be possible if everybody does not have an equal chance to access services.

CBM signs MoU with WHO at the 10GA

We’ve just signed an ambitious Memorandum of Understanding with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (#NTDs). Read more on the website.

Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), Dr. M. R. Moeti (right) shakes hands with the Chairman of CBM International, Dr. R. Brockhaus (left) after signing the MoU. In the background is Ms. Kirsty Smith, CEO of CBM UK and Dr. Babar Qureshi, Director for NTDs.

Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), Dr. M. R. Moeti (right) shakes hands with the Chairman of CBM International, Dr. R. Brockhaus (left) after signing the MoU. In the background is Ms. Kirsty Smith, CEO of CBM UK and Dr. Babar Qureshi, Director for NTDs.

Connect with us and know more

Follow live coverage of the IAPB GA on the CBM website, Facebook and Twitter as well as the blog.

Inclusive eye health for all

Continuing our blog series for the 10th IAPB General Assembly (10GA), David Lewis OAM, Strategic Programmes Director, CBM Australia, writes about CBM’s experiences on inclusive eye health over the years.

I was sad to note the passing of a great pioneer of Community Ophthalmology in Asia, Professor Kazuichi Konyama, in June 2016. At VISION 2020’s launch in Vietnam in 2004, I recall him emphasising, ‘Every human being on the planet has the right to access quality eye health services’.

I was reminded of my work with CBM in West Africa in the 1990s. Working there was a great privilege, and yet, could also be very discouraging. Alongside some wonderful outcomes, we also encountered enormous need which we could not meet, and saw the destruction of vital services by the war in Sierra Leone.

David Lewis with a small patient in Niger in 2009.

David Lewis with a small patient in Niger in 2009.

Meeting Mariama, a young mother with bi-lateral cataracts in a remote Sierra Leonean village in 1992 was a profound experience for me. Mariama had not only developed cataracts in her mid-thirties and been totally blind for three years; she had also been profoundly deaf since she was a small child. We of course ensured that Mariama received cataract surgery, but her life could have turned out very differently. Without CBM’s partner community programme and eye hospital, Mariama may never have accessed the services she needed.  It is experiences like these, which make all of us connected with IAPB strive for a world where the most marginalised people can access quality services: This is both their need and their right.

Mariama’s condition is not unique; one billion people in the world– 15% of the world’s population—live with disability, including vision impairment. In 2009, CBM began a journey in Inclusive Eye Health. We tested approaches focused on strengthening good existing work in Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries.

By 2014, we were ready to share some of what we had learnt about inclusive practices with our partners and friends around the world. CBM launched Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programmes, co-branded with IAPB and 13 other member agencies.

The guide helps address two key issues for people with disability:

  • How to make eye care services accessible and inclusive
  • How to assist people with permanent vision loss

In this context, CBM is proud to sponsor the GA course: ‘Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programmes’. The course will explore up to date case studies from committed partners and IAPB member agencies around the world. We will consider a range of factors causing marginalisation, including disability, gender, age, ethnicity, religious minority, poverty, geographic isolation, access to education, and also how these factors intersect. Importantly, the course will bring practical solutions and discussions to strengthening inclusive practice in eye health programmes.

Please do attend the course, so we can strengthen our approaches together.

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Follow live coverage of the IAPB GA on the CBM website, Facebook and Twitter as well as the blog.
 

CBM a key sponsor and program partner of IAPB General Assembly

CBM is a key sponsor of the IAPB’s 10th General Assembly (10GA) from 27-30 October 2016 which will be held in Durban, South Africa. The 10GA is the biggest event in the 2016 eye health calendar and will bring together global experts in eye health, eye health institutions, NGOs, networks and government representatives to discuss public health issues related to blindness and visual impairment. With the theme “Stronger Together”, IAPB aims to build and strengthen partnerships and ensure a united voice.

The following blog is written by Dr. Babar Qureshi, CBM Director for Neglected Tropical Diseases on his part in CBM’s upcoming course, ‘Inclusion Made Easy in Health Programmes’, that focuses on disability inclusive practices for eye care.

Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM) -Trachoma Prevention Control Programm, P 3014 Ethiopia Trachoma outreach in Didamidore (Mareko district). Chaltu Egedo (27) and her daughter Jemanesh (2) have a trachoma infection. Ophthalmologe Dr. Lelissa Munduma examing their eyes.

Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM) -Trachoma Prevention Control Programm, P 3014 Ethiopia
Trachoma outreach in Didamidore (Mareko district). Chaltu Egedo (27) and her daughter Jemanesh (2) have a trachoma infection. Ophthalmologe Dr. Lelissa Munduma examing their eyes.

According to global figures, people with disability, including those with vision impairment, make up 20% of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. It is therefore essential that everyone working in eye health, including planners, providers, evaluators and funders, understand key steps they can take at their own level, to build inclusion for all people.

Since 2009, CBM has been working on approaches to Inclusive Eye Health (IEH) with two key objectives:

  • People with all disabilities access eye health services
  • People with permanent vision loss access wider opportunities, i.e. in all areas of health care, rehabilitation, education, livelihoods, social inclusion, and empowerment

In this context, CBM established pilot projects in inclusive eye health in Cambodia, Vietnam and Pakistan in 2009-10. Subsequently, pilots were run in India, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. CBM is now working with a range of other countries to strengthen inclusive practices in eye health. In 2011, CBM published its first Inclusive Eye Health manual, and an updated version followed in 2014.

CBM recently commissioned a study to identify good practice, and evidence of strengths and weaknesses in the Pakistan IEH pilot, which was implemented in Charsadda district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, through CBM’s partner CHEF International. This programme worked with 4 Basic Health Units at the primary level, one district hospital at the secondary level as well as a number of local schools. It was implemented in the context of the 2010 floods which had caused significant damage to the physical infrastructure of the local partners.

The key strengths identified in the study were:

  • Greater accessibility of eye health services
  • A new national government focus on inclusive eye health and integration into government systems
  • The creation of a sustainable referral system
  • Greater community awareness of services and a change in community perceptions of people with disabilities

The key areas for improvement identified were:

  • Better analysis of data needed
  • Further improvements to accessibility and referral systems needed
  • Further improvements for awareness within the community, particularly in terms of policies and referral services, needed

So, don’t miss CBM’s course on 29 October, to hear about the details of this study, and CBM’s wider work in Inclusive Eye Health.

CBM NTD Report 2016:
More than 1 billion people – one-sixth of the world’s population – are affected by one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and another 2 billion people are at risk, mainly in the tropics and sub-tropics. Take a look at our Neglected Tropical Diseases Report 2016 for more information about our work with NTDs.

Inclusive eye health:
‘Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programs’ is designed for program staff in international development organisations. It is a practical guide on how to ensure eye-health programs are disability-inclusive. It is accompanied by a handy brochure/ poster with 10 tips for getting started.

Connect with us and know more

Follow live coverage of the IAPB GA on the CBM website, Facebook and Twitter as well as the blog.