Evidence-Based Medicine to Drive Change: Prevention of Blindness Programming in Latin America

November 24, 2014 5:17 PM

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In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, the global community has seen and experienced the consequences, fear, and confusion of managing and controlling a disease that has limited evidence and knowledge base and lack of historical antecedents to support our actions taken. Never before has the global public health community had to address Ebola in the urban and transnational environment in the way we now are forced to do. The high mortality rate of Ebola -- over half of those who are sickened by the virus die -- is a cause for great concern worldwide. However, there is another global public health problem that sits quietly in the shadows of international media coverage, one that affects one child born every minute and has a comparable mortality rate of 60% in that child's first year- blindness.

The WHO estimates that 285 million people worldwide have visual impairment and 39 million are blind. Yet, approximately 80% of visual impairment is avoidable or preventable. Blindness is a disease of poverty; 90% of people with visual impairment and blindness live in low-income settings.

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