Project information

Reducing visual impairment in Sierra Leone

To support the WHO Global Action Plan to reduce avoidable visual impairment through building capacity of the eye health workforce, developing eye care facilities and improving access to affordable services, so that quality of life improves for all communities, especially for women and children.

April 2018 - March 2019

Charity information: Vision Aid Overseas

Vision Aid Overseas logo
  • Need


    Whilst primary eye health is recognised in the National Health Sector Strategic Plan it is severely under-resourced. There are limited public services available (only 2 government run Vision Centres in urban areas for a population above 7 million), limited availability of affordable spectacles (with 52.3% of the population earning less than $1.90 a day), low uptake of spectacle use and few trained optometrists/optometry technicians in country (a total of 6 versus the Vision 2020 target of 144).


    Vision Aid Overseas will continue to develop and strengthen eye care health services through;

    a)Supporting a network of sustainable eye care facilities (Vision Centres) that offer affordable spectacles
    b)Providing optical equipment and materials, that are maintained in the Vision Centres
    c)Developing human resources for eye health through training and professional support
    d)Undertaking community outreach work, including health promotion activities, to improve access to services for the poor

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Infrastructure – Strengthen 3 Vision Centres (VCs) in Eastern Province; Kenema, Koidu and Kailahun


    » Strengthen the management and improve the effectiveness of the Vision Centres through providing training, regular monitoring and management support
    » Supply the Vision Centres with affordable spectacles for 1 year to ensure provision for the poorest communities whilst local supply is established

    Increase of 25% in number of refractions undertaken and in the number of glasses dispensed per Vision Centre

    Aim 2

    Human Resources – Support 10 Optometry Technicians undertaking eye tests and dispensing spectacles


    » Provide management and training support to strengthen refracting, glazing of spectacles, dispensing and the use and maintenance of all equipment
    » Support salaries of qualified Optometry Technicians for the duration of the project pending the transfer of ownership to the Ministry of Health

    Improvement in knowledge and skills of eye care personnel trained by VAO in Vision Centres

    Aim 3

    Outreach work – support to Eastern Province Eye Care Project to undertake outreach in remote areas


    » To build refraction services into existing locally run hospital outreach to bring optometry services to the more isolated communities
    » Strengthen the Vision Centre capacity to support outreach patients with spectacles

    Increase of 50% in the number of outreach interventions that include Optometry and increase of 25% in the number of glasses dispensed from outreach

    Aim 4

    Field management – VAO to provide quality local programme oversight and management in-country


    » In-country programme management support and oversight to be provided by a small VAO team in Sierra Leone
    » Programme monitoring and reporting (including all financial and equipment/supplies transactions) to be provided by the VAO team in Sierra Leone

    All project activities, deadlines and due diligence requirements are met including data gathering, monitoring and reporting

  • Impact


    The project will increase awareness of and access to eye care services and affordable spectacles in Sierra Leone with immediate impacts being better vision and improved quality of life and well-being. Associated long-term impacts evidenced in VAO’s other programmes are a) improved school grades for children and b) increased economic activity for adults. We will continue to collect evidence of all long-term impacts through case studies.


    • Awareness of eyecare services and spectacle use is currently poor, so eye health promotion is included, particularly during outreach
    • There is poor uptake of spectacles due to cost, addressed through an affordable pricing structure
    • Poor retention of the eye health workforce is addressed through work-based training and professional support and through working with the Ministry of Health to ensure the eye health workforce is prioritised and funded as part of the National Health Strategy


    Donors will be sent a progress report after 6 months (by the 31 October 2018) detailing progress against objectives and a final report (on or before 31 May 2020) after completion of the project, including Case Studies describing longer-term changes. All reports will be sent by e-mail.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £75,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £26,795 Infrastructure and materials Strengthen 3 Vision Centres (VCs) in Eastern Province; Kenema, Koidu and Kailahun
      £10,500 Human Resources Support 10 Optometry Technicians undertaking eye tests and dispensing spectacles
      £2,136 Outreach work support to Eastern Province Eye Care Project to undertake outreach in remote areas
      £35,569 Field management VAO to provide quality local programme oversight and management in-country
  • Background


    The project is in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, one of the least developed countries in Africa. In its recent history, the country was ravaged by an 11-year Civil War (from 1991-2002) which resulted in many deaths and displacement and critical damage to infrastructure and public services. These were further strained during the more recent Ebola outbreak, however, Sierra Leone is now a safe and politically stable democracy and infrastructure is slowly improving.


    The project will cover 1.6 million people in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, who are amongst the poorest in the country (85% are engaged in subsistence agriculture;79% in rural areas live below the poverty line ). Procedures will be put in place to ensure women and children have equitable access to services. The training of Optometry Technicians will contribute to the National Eyecare Plan and increase the number of eyecare workers nationally.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    VAO has operated in Eastern Province since April 2014 where we have established and equipped Vision Centres at Kenema, Koidu and Kailahun, providing eye care services to nearly 14,000 patients and spectacles to nearly 3,000 patients, despite the impact of Ebola in 2014/15. Working with the Ministry of Health we have so far trained nine Optometry Technicians (a one year course in The Gambia) and significantly contributed to strengthening the health system in the most challenging of circumstances.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    VAO Country Director

    Will provide all programme oversight and project management including budgets, monitoring and evaluation and team management

    Optometry Technicians

    Will provide services from the Vision Centres (eye tests, making up and dispensing spectacles and providing outreach services)

    Director Of Programmes

    Will provide strategic management to the programme in-country, maintain communications and ensure quality reporting


Can pay for a community outreach team to see 500 people

Taking temperatures had become difficult as the digital display was not clear, reading the blood pressure dial was a daily struggle and writing medical reports had become almost impossible without good light.

Fatimata, Sierra Leone