Projects - Health - Optician Services
Two years ago it was not possible to obtain a pair of spectacles in the township of Dedza. Now there is a permanent eye clinic that provides eye testing and spectacle dispensing. This has been made possible by Norfolk optometrist Julie Dean.
Julie first visited Dedza in August 2006 taking second hand equipment and recycled spectacles to set up an eye clinic in Dedza District Hospital. When she arrived she found that the clinic had not been functioning for many years and the room was being used for storage.
After two days the room was clear and with the help of an interpreter Julie started testing. Farmers, teachers, nurses, schoolchildren, policemen and the only doctor in the hospital were among the patients.
Julie returned to Dedza in February 2006 to start the training of two refractionists, Lucky Kilembe and Millias Pofera, who run the clinic between her visits. She also set up links with workshops in other parts of Malawi for the provision of affordable glasses.
Julie helped to facilitate training for a nurse from the hospital, who is studying at the Malawi College for Health Sciences and hopes to become a qualified ophthalmic clinical officer in October 2009. She will be able to deal with minor eye problems and will also be screening for cataracts and glaucoma.
Space will be needed for her to work and plans are underway to build an extra room that will cost around ten thousand pounds. Sight Savers International, based in Lilongwe, will then include the hospital in its outreach programme for cataract surgery.
Julie trained the Special Needs Teacher for the area to carry out a simple test for reading glasses. He takes a testing kit and glasses on his motorbike and helps teachers in the District who are struggling to read. She has plans to expand the eye service to provide outreach clinics throughout Dedza District and to screen children in and out of school.
In April 2007 Julie formed her own charity, Far Sight, to enable her to raise funds and make requests for equipment, frames and lenses. Far Sight works in co-operation with the Norwich-Dedza Partnership.
Julie is extremely grateful for the support given by family, friends and the optical profession without which the project would not be able to continue.