- The country has a population of more than 90 million
- Densely populated mainly in the Mekong and Red River deltas
- Eighty percent of the country is mountainous and some areas are difficult to access
- There are fifty-four minority groups. Many of them live below the poverty line
- Minority communities in particular have limited access to health care
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What does the Eye Care Foundation do?
Since 1993 the Eye Care Foundation supports eye care in Vietnam. Initially, they organized eye camps operated by Dutch ophthalmologists and nurses, helping as many cataract patients as possible in a short space of time. The focus has gradually shifted to the development of sustainable eye care and comprehensive optical services. To achieve this the Eye Care Foundation supports the education and training of ophthalmic and support staff, the establishment of Vision Centres in district and provincial hospitals, providing eye tests in schools and on the elderly and organizes activities around education and awareness. The Eye Care Foundation supports projects in four provinces (Dong Thap, Binh Duong, Ca Mau and Soc Trang) and in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
The 3-year project “Sight for children and elderly people in the Mekong Delta” funded by the Standard Charter Bank “Seeing is Believing” program (SiB) was completed. The final evaluation showed that the project was implemented effectively and efficiently and contributed significantly to the outcomes of the reduction of avoidable blindness in the region. With the additional funds provided by our donors, the project managed to establish Vision Centers providing refraction and glass dispensing service, increasing the coverage of refractive services to 8 out of 9 districts of Ca Mau. Vietnam continues with school screenings and elderly screenings. Almost 10% of the patients received free and subsidized glasses.
We established 2 Vision Centers in Vinh Long and Dong Thap, with the help of our donors, increasing the total to 16 Vision Centers with our support across the Mekong Delta region.
Our eye care festival is an innovative component of the comprehensive school eye health program. The festivals, some of which were funded by foundations, were conducted with local partners to raise awareness for school children and their teachers on the importance of having good eyesight in a fun and interactive way. The key for the sustainability of this event is that organizing and hosting are being done by local partners and community groups, such as student and youth union associations.
A great effort has been made in advocacy at the national level to obtain the professional code of Optometrist with the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the other 2 INGOs.
Behavior change communication (BCC) activities were developed with a focus on building capacity for trained district refractionists, to train commune health workers and school nurses.
The Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh City opened in 2008. The country representative, Luong Thi Quynh Lan, supervises the projects. She is assisted by project officer Nguyen Thi Truong Xuan. Le Phan Minh Chau is responsible for administration and finance. The country representative reports to Elise Kenter, programme manager of the projects in Vietnam and Nepal. The team is assisted with medical advice by the Dutch ophthalmologist The Anh Mai, who works on a voluntary basis as a consultant for the projects of the Eye Care Foundation in Vietnam.
Contact details of the Eye Care Foundation Vietnam
R401, 383 Vo Van Tan street
Ward 5 – District 3
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam