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Sightsavers - Gambia

Contact Address:
Sightsavers International
Kairaba Avenue HQ
Fajara M Section
PO Box 950 Banjul
Kanifing Municipality
The Gambia, West Africa

Tel no: +220 4399177 
Fax:              4496203


Sightsavers International - The Gambia is a Banjul registered, charity & non-governmental organisation which has been actively working in the Gambia since the 1950s.

The international NGO works to fight against blindness in many of the poorest developing countries around the world and helps restore sight through expert treatment and eye care. Sightsavers also helps people who are profoundly or totally blind by making available life skills training, advice and education.

Globally, the charity has carried out over 270,000 sight-restoring cataract operations, treated over 1 million people with antibiotics for trachoma and protected 23 million people against river blindness. The charity also carries out diagnosis and drug treatment of other eye conditions such as angle glaucoma and trichiasis.

Together with their local Gambian partners, Sightsavers works in urban locations, rural villages and up-river regions to diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions such as cataracts. The organisation also campaigns for eye care awareness in order to avoid preventable blindness in local communities. The UK headquartered charity also advocates for the enrolment of visually impaired and blind children into mainstream schools by training teachers on the requirements of such special needs pupils and providing necessary back-up resources.

Curing Blindness:
Cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness in The Gambia which affects the old and young. Sightsavers, in collaboration with its local partners, goes into communities to spot individuals with cataract, carry out surgery and provide subsequent care. Paediatric cataract requires slightly more complicated surgery but it's still a fast, and relatively cost effective procedure. To prevent night blindness and measles Vitamin A is largely distributed free of charge for children aged between 6 months to 5 years.

Preventing Blindness & Personnel:
Due to the acute shortage of trained ophthalmologists in remote rural village communities of The Gambia, and Africa in general, an alternative strategy has been adopted. Since the 1980s Sightsavers has been working with its local partners to train staff at all levels to become eye care specialists such as nurses, community volunteers, cataract surgeons and teachers.

There are also community based eye care workers called Nyatero (literally means 'friend of the eye') who are responsible for primary eye care, screening and referrals for about 250 people in their local area. The Nyatero also teaches local people about the SAFE strategy - the regular washing of hands and face and keeping the environment as clean as possible to reduce infections.

To combat river blindness their partners train local community volunteers to ascertain the correct dosage and provide a free preventative medication supplied by Merck & Co. called Mectizan which should be taken for a period of 15 to 25 years. Village volunteers are also taught simple eye care regimes, while health workers are provided with partner led training in basic ophthalmology allowing them to diagnose and cure common ophthalmology conditions, or refer patients on for follow-up treatment.

Main Areas of Intervention:
Advocacy for the blind & visually impaired

Community development projects

Education for special needs children

Prevention & cure

Training of local staff working with blind people

Sightsavers: UK
Grosvenor Hall, Bolnore Road
Haywards Heath
West Sussex RH16 4BX
Tel no: +44 01444 446600
(between 8am to 5pm)

Sightsavers: USA
P.O. Box 942
Massachusetts 01432
Tel no: +1 (800) 707 9746

They are behind the American Embassy Banjul; Sightsavers charity headquarters is off the Kairaba Avenue in Fajara, Kmc. The easiest way is to go behind the Standard Bank on the Coastal  Road and drive east. Their building is located about 150 m to your left.


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