Dubai

Dubai Cares, part of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has announced a three-year integrated school health programme in Liberia to tackle deworming and eyecare needs for school-aged children.

The $2 million (Dh7.35 million) programme, in partnership with Sightsavers, is set to benefit around 77,000 children aged six to 18 years in four regions across Liberia.

The programme seeks to support Liberia’s health system in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak. The programme provides marginalised children in four regions of Liberia with basic vision screening and deworming. It then facilitates the referral and treatment process for children identified with visual impairment.

The programme is set to train 2,400 teachers from 1,200 schools, as well as community volunteers and district education officers so they can carry out the deworming and vision screening. In addition, the programme is set to train four optometric technicians — one per region — and provide a minimum of 3,000 pairs of high-quality eyeglasses to children and teachers identified with visual impairment.

Annina Mattsson, programmes director at Dubai Cares, said: “Liberia’s economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks and natural disasters, and the recent Ebola outbreak has put an enormous strain on the country’s health and education systems. With this new programme, Dubai Cares is reaching out to vulnerable children in the most affected areas, and we are placing schools at the centre of the strategy to deworm children and provide a healthy environment for education. Over a period of three years, this programme will positively contribute towards the delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets such as universal primary and secondary education, gender equality and inclusion, as well as universal health coverage.”

Adoley Sonii, country director for Sightsavers in Liberia, said: “Health issues related to visual impairment and intestinal worms are known to contribute to absenteeism and dropout rates among school-age children in Liberia. Our integrated school health programme, working closely with the Ministries of Health and Education, tackles these issues through school-based deworming and vision screening activities. We are delighted to partner with Dubai Cares in this programme to make a significant positive impact in the lives of children and help them pursue their education”.