"The climate fight is right here, right now"
Eye health is being impacted
"The climate crisis is harming people’s eye health, globally. This is a fact. One that might not be obvious to many at first glance—but it’s of huge importance!" explains Dr. Geoffery Wabulembo, Medical Director for Eye Health & NTDs at Light for the World.
The links include traffic-related air pollution and: severe allergic eye diseases, glaucoma & age-related macular degeneration.
High temperatures and low rainfall have been associated with an increase in trachoma infections.
Vitamin A deficiency, which is linked to poor eye health, is also predicted to rise due to food insecurity.
What's more, extreme weather events are disrupting critical eye health supplies.
“We are feeling the force of the climate crisis at Light for the World Mozambique," says Ilauda Manala, Communications Officer.
"Over the past months, we have faced storm, after storm, after storm."
Indeed, according to Germanwatch’s 2021 Climate Risk Index, Mozambique is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change worldwide. Unless urgent steps to stop global temperatures from soaring are taken, the storms will keep coming.
Photo: people in Mozambique queuing for aid support, following repeated floods.
"In 2019, Cyclone Idai literally blew the roof of our eye health clinic."
Photo: In March 2019, the Department of Ophthalmology of the Beira eye clinic, supported by Light for the World, was hit by Cyclone Idai. For months it served as an accident operating room and eye operations had to be postponed.
The health sector majorly contributes to carbon emissions
According to the Healthcare’s Climate Footprint, the health sector causes 4.4% of global emissions. If the health sector were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter.
“Eye health professionals, as part of the wider health sector, carry great responsibility when it comes to our climate. We must do everything in our power to tackle the climate crisis; starting at home!” says Dr. Geoffrey Wabulembo.
"Light for the World is proud to have signed up IAPB’s Call to Action for Sustainability in the Eye Health Sector. We see this as a first, important step, and recognise the improvements we still need to make."
“For example, our office in Mozambique has undergone an environmental impact assessment in order to reduce its own ecological footprint.”
"We are also working with the government on how to include people with disabilities during emergencies, including extreme weather events."
Ilauda Manala agrees: "As NGOs, we have a real responsibility to ensure our work is sustainable and does not hurt our environment further. The climate fight is right here, right now. Every action counts!”
Photo: this eye clinic in Zorgho in Burkina Faso, supported by Light for the World, operates with solar panels on the roof, enabling a consistent and sustainable energy supply.