In Pakistan, women account for 51.4% of the total blind population. According to Pakistan National Blindness
and Visual Impairment Survey (2005), the odds of blindness in women in Pakistan are 30% higher than that of man. The grounds behind this gender disparity in a country like Pakistan are; lesser recognition & acceptance of women rights, lack of awareness, resource constraints, social barriers and limited accessibility to ophthalmic facilities. Sadly major portion of the country’s female population falls below the poverty line; is illiterate, malnourished and exhausted by backbreaking household chores and contribution in income generation activities.
Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT) started its operations in 1984 with the mandate that ‘no man, woman or child should go blind just because they cannot afford treatment’ with the provision of free eye care services. Since then these hospitals are catering to the eye related problems of this segment of the population whose health care needs are not considered a priority, and who receive the last call on family resources.
Today after almost 3 decades LRBT stands not only as an established and credible organization, but also as the largest eye care provider in the country. The scale of LRBT’s operations can be assessed from the fact that presently, 36% of eye patients, 27% of eye surgeries, and 32% of pediatric cataract eye surgeries in Pakistan are being catered by the organization’s established facilities, alone.
USAID’s Small Grants Program with an initiative to reduce preventable blindness amongst the poor and needy female patients through free cataract eye surgeries joined this noble cause by awarding a grant of $249,836 to LRBT for a period of one year from May 2012 to April 2013.
There is no better service to humanity than turning darkness into brightness. With USAID’s assistance the project has directly benefitted 11,417 poor female patients all across Pakistan at 6 different LRBT Hospitals in Akora Khattak, Manshehra, Khanewal, Mandra, lar and Rashidabad.
“My husband could not afford paying PKR 2,500 for my eye surgery, I am thankful to USAID for this assistance. I did not face any problem in receiving my treatment, I am sure with the restoration of my eyesight I will be able to manage my household chores comfortably,” expressed Saran wife of Muhammad Yaqub, a 60-year old pleasant woman hailing from Nawabshah outskirts (Thatta Sindh).