Better vision, better opportunities

In November 2022, a life-changing event took place at the Government Girls High School in the Khat Kale village, Nowshera. Nabeela, a 15-year-old student, and twenty of her peers participated in a vision and hearing screening. Little did Nabeela and her parents know that this screening would reveal a significant issue with her eyesight, one that could be resolved through a simple surgery.

Nabeela's academic performance had been below par for some time. She rarely responded to questions from her teachers, and despite three years at the school, her performance was not satisfactory. Recognising the need to investigate potential learning delays, the members of the Parent Teacher Council (PTC) recommended health screenings for children experiencing difficulties. Consequently, Nabeela underwent her first-ever eye test.

A startling discovery

The vision screening consists of two parts. The first is the reading test, which is performed on a simple reading board. The second is the eyesight test. With the help of various devices and lenses, the doctor can detect abnormalities in the eye. It already became clear at this point that Nabeela‘s vision was extremely limited.

Nabeela’s mother, Ms. Rafaqat says, “We were shocked when we came to know that she cannot see clearly. We immediately visited a doctor who recommended a surgery”.

To gain a more precise diagnosis, Nabeela was referred to the eye clinic at the local tertiary care hospital, Qazi Hussain Ahmed Medical Complex. Further tests confirmed that Nabeela was suffering from cataract, one of the leading causes of avoidable blindness in Asia and worldwide. The timely management and early treatment of this condition can preserve a patient's vision for a lifetime.

New doors of opportunities are opening up

Nabeela underwent successful surgery on both of her eyes. Following a three-week recovery period, her vision experienced a remarkable improvement. The newfound clarity opened doors to opportunities she could not have imagined before.

“After the successful eye surgery, my vision has greatly improved, allowing me to perform formerly difficult activities like sports, outdoor activities, reading, or watching TV,” expressed Nabeela Khan, filled with gratitude.

The Parent Teacher Council and the implementation of health screenings played a pivotal role in Nabeela’s journey. Their proactive approach not only detected her vision impairment but also opened up new avenues of opportunity for her.

“It was the diagnosis at the screening that saved my daughter from permanent blindness,” exclaims Mr. Jan Nisar Khan, Nabeela’s father.

“Screenings can aid in the early detection of vision issues, even in the absence of symptoms. Timely diagnoses make prompt intervention and treatment possible, which may help prevent or manage vision problems more successfully,” says Ms. Asiya, Education Officer from the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP).

Nabeela's story showcases the transformative impact of vision screenings and the importance of timely intervention. Through the support of her school and medical professionals, Nabeela's life took a remarkable turn, enabling her to embrace a future filled with possibilities.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ Pakistan has supported the health screening of around 1,233 children so far in the districts of Peshawar, Nowshera and Haripur in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.