Thousands of children and adults in remote villages of Tanzania will see a brighter future with improved access to medical eye care examinations, screenings and provision of prescription eyeglasses, thanks to a $20,000 humanitarian grant project sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edina with support of local clubs in Rotary District 5950, Dodoma (Tanzania) Rotary Club and Tanzania Health Partners.
Tanzania, an East African country with a population of nearly 62 million, has a high incidence of blindness, lacking access to medical screening, diagnosis and eye care treatment. In some cases, villagers in remote areas would walk two or three days to visit medical staff at the full-service Dodoma Christian Medical Center in the capitol city with a population of 250,000. If prescription lenses were required, the patients would walk home and return three weeks later to the city for their eyeglass fittings.
A better solution, envisioned by DCMC, Tanzania Health Partners and the Rotary partners, was a portable system that would allow medical staff to drive to villages and provide eye care. Examining and diagnosing 1,000 or more people at a time, staff would have the ability to drive back to the hospital, grind lenses to specification and return to the village for fitting of prescription eyeglasses.
A $20,000 grant was awarded for the Rotary project partners to purchase a portable computer prescription sensor reader and a portable glaucoma pressure reader. This, paired with a new electronic computer lens-grinding machine donated to Tanzania Health Partners and installed at the Dodoma Medical Center, completes an updated system for delivering eye care that began this spring.
Dr. Charles Yancey a Minnesota ophthalmologist who has worked for years with Dodoma Christian Medical Center and is a board director with Tanzania Health Partners, coordinated with Edina Rotarian co-chairs Richard Teegen and Daniel Mott on this project, which began last fall.
“The poor people in the Dodoma region who need glasses will have a place to go if this grant goes through. They will thank you for years to come,” Yancey wrote in a note to Teegen during the application process.
“This grant will have a major impact by providing significantly improved eyesight each year to thousands of Tanzania adults and children,” Teegen said in a recent Rotary presentation thanking partners.
Rotary Club of Edina members authored and coordinated the grant with Rotary District 5950, joined locally by the Rotary Club of Edina Morningside, two Eden Prairie Rotary clubs and the Rotary Club of Golden Valley. They, in turn, connected with Dodoma Rotary Club in Tanzania, Dodoma Christian Medical Center and Tanzania Health Partners.