Improving access to quality, inclusive and comprehensive eye health services for marginalized rural communities


Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in Malawi, and yet only 45% of blind people who needed cataract surgery have accessed it. The UKAM project is an FCDO funded initiative through CBM UK to Malawi via Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organizations (MANEPO) and Nkhoma Mission Hospital-Eye Department to improve access to quality, inclusive and comprehensive eye health services for marginalised rural communities. The project will cover a total of 10 districts, namely: Nkhotakota, Salima, Ntcheu, Dedza, Dowa, Ntchisi, Lilongwe-East District, Nkhata Bay, Kasungu and Mchinji with emphasis on cataract surgeries and health systems straightening. MANEPO is the programme management partner on behalf of CBM UK and is working in partnership with Nkhoma Mission Hospital-Eye Department to implement the Project. MANEPO will provide programme oversight and management of Nkhoma Eye Project-(NEP) on behalf of CBM UK. This project’s approach follows recommendations for the elimination of avoidable blindness by the World Health Organization (WHO) and will contribute to all four pillars of the WHO Vision 2020 Global Action Plan: collect evidence; train more eye care professionals; provide comprehensive eye care; eliminate social and economic obstacles.


The project will use an integrated health systems strengthening approach to bring essential eye care services closer to the rural communities of the 10 Districts to improve quality and inclusion. More specifically, the project has adopted five strategies to address the identified problems, all of which have been proven as cost-effective for the delivery of essential eye health services in resource constrained environments as follows; 

  1. 1. Establishing primary and secondary eye care services by training and equipping existing staff at rural health centres and district hospitals.  

  1. 2. Use of specialist (tertiary) expertise from NEP to provide coaching, mentoring and quality control through regular visits to district hospitals; and to conduct cataract surgery - both in the district hospitals (reaching out) and at NEP, for patients referred by district hospitals (reaching in).  

  1. 3 .Community engagement and sensitisation on the eye services available and on the importance of eye health. Mobilisation of communities for screening, identification, assessment and referrals.  

  1. 4. Ensuring eaderly, gender and disability inclusive approaches throughout the above, including through engagement of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in community sensitisation efforts.  

  1. 5. Piloting and rolling out an inclusive reporting system with data disaggregation by age, gender and disability to support the Ministry of Health (MoH) with basic data collection, and to better inform the Malawian public health system when designing new interventions  
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Through funding from Irish Aid, HelpAge International and its partners, including MANEPO are implementing a 5-year programme called ‘Accountability and Fulfilment for Older People to Raise their Dignity’ (AFFORD).

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Increase social Protection

The programme aims at increasing access to appropriate, inclusive, and effective social protection systems. To older men and women across the targeted countries. 

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Multi-country Project

The programme is being implemented in five countries, namely: Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ireland.

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Brief about Commonwealth Project

The project aims at greater inclusion of older men and women in the social and political spheres at the local and national levels. Among other, the project will:

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Train members from MANEPO and Older Persons’ Associations (OPAs) on older persons’ rights, including raising awareness of the provisions of the National Policy for Older Persons..

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Supporting them

Support the designing and implementation of evidence-based advocacy strategies and campaigns on issues affecting older men and women in the three districts of Lilongwe, Blantyre, and Mzuzu .


“Supporting timely screening and diagnosis of HIV and AIDS, early ART initiation and good ART adherence for the 50+ population experiencing NCDs and intersectional vulnerability.”

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The Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organizations (MANEPO) with funding from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) through HelpAge International is implementing a 2-year project in Mangochi and Zomba districts. The project is designed to contribute to the redress built on lessons drawn from the implementation of SADC fund-Round II by HelpAge International. Thus, despite efforts being made by governments and other stakeholders to achieve the UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets and ending HIV epidemic by 2030, a few challenges remain, one being that in the 3 SADC countries (Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique) many 50+ population living with HIV (approximately 62%) are living lonely lives. The effects of ageing and HIV are complex and impacting on overall quality of life. Although depression is the most common condition for many people living with HIV regardless of age, for 50+ population living with HIV, depression is 39% higher. Furthermore, people living with HIV who have depression are less likely to adhere optimally to ART . .

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To support community-based institutions and health systems to deliver SRH services, access to health ageing, integrated screening, management, treatment and adherence support for 50+ population with comorbidity of HIV and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

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The project is built on lessons drawn from the implementation of SADC fund-Round II; and employ tested methodologies on; Intergenerational approach to SRH, health and community systems strengthening, Mobilization and Empowerment, Promotion of Healthy Ageing, Enforcement of Rights Based approach, improving accountability and building strong evidence base for learning, disseminating and advocating for responsive policies and laws.

Providing healthy care to elderly people

MANEPO through HelpAge International sourced some funds from the Irish Aid funded project known as the AFFORD to use it in response to COVID19 pandemic.

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The story of Benson Nasongole.Benson Nasongole 73, with his fellow member Sabstino Jumbe 73, analyzing data they have collected before it is sent to MANEPO office. Both are members of Older Citizen Monitoring Group and Nasongole is the chairperson.

The response targeted 400 older men and women in 8 Older Person’s Association in Blantyre namely; Ntenje, Kachere, Makhetha, Area 10, Chemusa, Manje, Mbayani and Chirimba.

Taking care of older persons

The response targeted 400 older men and women in 8 Older Person’s Association in Blantyre namely; Ntenje, Kachere, Makhetha, Area 10, Chemusa, Manje, Mbayani and Chirimba..

Providing healthy care to elderly people
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Goat pass-on

Goat pass-on is a project under the income security thematic area. It is a livelihood enhancement through the livestock dispersal program being implemented in Lilongwe and Balaka districts.


It is a strategy in order to improve goat production and increase household income, from goat sales by providing targeted older persons’ vulnerable households with hybrid goats. .

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Analysis of Financial Documents

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