Knowledge, attitudes and practices in eye health and disability in Sierra Leone – study report 2014

Main objectives

  • To ascertain the general public’s knowledge, attitude and practices regarding eye health and common eye conditions
  • To assess the general public’s perception of disability and attitudes towards people with disabilities, with a particular focus on people who are blind and have low vision
  • To understand the experiences of people with disabilities in accessing health care and other services and community activities
  • To identify the main barriers to eye care and social inclusion of people with disabilities
  • To establish baseline data for future assessments and monitoring the progress of the project


Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa, sharing its land borders with Guinea and Liberia. At the time of the study, the country had a population of about 5.9 million people and was divided into four administrative regions: the northern, southern and eastern provinces, and the western Area where the capital city of Freetown is located.

The national Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) survey conducted in 2010/2011, estimated the prevalence of blindness among people aged 50+ years at 5.9%. Over 91% of blindness was considered to be avoidable. Cataract was the major cause of blindness and severe visual impairment (SVI), followed by glaucoma.

Sightsavers has been working in Sierra Leone since the 1950s. In 2012, Sightsavers and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation started a four-year project to support eye care and disability services throughout the country. The project has been funded by the European Commission and the Standard Chartered Bank. The study presented in this report was integrated in this project and aimed to assess population knowledge, attitudes and practices with regards to eye health and disability and explore the experiences of people with disabilities in accessing health care and other services.


Study details
Start date
Finish date
Main contact
Elena Schmidt
Director, Policy and Programme Strategy
  • Sightsavers
  • Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone
  • Dalan Development Consultants