Ugandan people over the age of 65 are able to be tested for eye disease and sight loss through a program launched and backed by Sightsavers and the Ugandan government. The test is provided for free and is available for seniors when they go to pick up their pension. They are tested and if needed they are referred for surgery or treatment for conditions like cataracts and trachoma. A collaboration between Sightsavers and the Ugandan government’s Expanding Social Protection, or ESP, program, is what makes this new initiative possible. The Ugandan government has been running the ESP program for almost ten years, and with this program their aim is to reduce age related poverty by providing a social pension, called the senior citizen’s grant, that is reserved for people 65 years and older. The organizers of the program recognize that different forms of disability inhibit the access of senior citizens to the grant, which makes providing services to combat these disabilities even more crucial and necessary. People over age 65 are at a higher risk for eye problems, like trachoma or cataracts, so their demographic is the main focus of the project.
Sightsavers also linked with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee’s Trust Trachoma Initiative to provide the necessary services on the ground in Uganda. Through the collaboration of the above mentioned programs and initiatives, thousands of people have been able to receive the proper care and surgery, which creates more opportunity for them to be more active members of their communities. Much of the poverty in Uganda is linked to disability and the 65 and older age group tend to be the most likely to suffer from avoidable disabilities. Initiatives like this one are so important and make a huge difference because providing health services makes it possible for people who previously couldn’t, to work and make a living for themselves and their families. Programs like Expanding Social Protection or ESP and organizations like Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee’s Trust Trachoma Initiative and Sightsavers, makes such a difference in the lives of those who truly need the assistance and whose lives and well being depend on it.