The main objectives of rapid assessments of avoidable blindness (RAABs) are to establish the magnitude and causes of avoidable blindness in an area where we are delivering, or planning to deliver, eye health services. As well as providing important information to help us plan suitable services they also provide useful baseline data that can be replicated 8-10 years later to measure the reduction in blindness or changes in the causes of visual impairment.
Compared to large scale epidemiological surveys, RAABs are a relatively quick and resource-light tool to help understand the scale and cause of visual impairment affecting a country or study region. We can collect additional information to understand if specific groups of people are particularly affected or disadvantaged. Once armed with this information, programme managers can plan services in a way that best meets the need of the population. If the RAAB is repeated at a later date (after 8-10 years depending on the scale of service delivery) we should also be able to measure the reduction in visual impairment as a result of those services.
Since 2017, we have conducted initial RAABs in Muchinga, Zambia (2017), Singida, Tanzania (2017), Kogi State, Nigeria (2020), and four different districts in Pakistan (2019-2022).
We have conducted second, repeat RAABs in Nampula, Mozambique (2018), Sierra Leone (2021), and two regions of Senegal (2022). We have published a paper on the Mozambique results showing that significant progress has been made in reducing avoidable visual impairment since the initial study in 2011.