Each year on March 8, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day – an opportunity to reflect on progress towards gender equality and what we can do to create a more fair and equitable world. At Orbis, we know that blindness is a gender issue and are committed to alleviating unequal access to eye care.

Meet Assoc. Prof. Phd. Md. Bui Thi Van Anh! Get Inspired!

As one of the leading glaucoma specialists in Vietnam, Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh, has had nearly 30 years of experience in examination, treatment, training and researching of Glaucoma, an eye condition characterized by optic nerve damage that progresses silently but results in irreversible vision loss if not detected timely and treated quickly.

Globally, women represent only 25-30% of ophthalmologists and 25-45% of professionals-in-training. Gender bias and women’s prioritization on taking care of family, especially in low- and middle-income countries, like Vietnam, prevented many women from pursuing and developing their career. Due to the lack of trained eye care professionals, many people are unable to access timely and quality eye care services, that leads to the increase of treatment cost or reduction of treatment effectiveness.

Throughout her career, Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh has inspired her colleagues, partners, students and communities, especially women, for her efforts to overcome the bias, proving herself and contributing to the country ophthalmic sector and the society. Her passion, devotion, dedication and amazing achievements show that more and more women have affirmed their role and standing in nowadays society.

So far, Orbis has had the honor to collaborate with Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh in many different training projects, either online or offline, with the aim to strengthen the capacity of the local eye care team, from central to grassroot level, on examination and treatment of Glaucoma so they can save and restore sight in their communities.

On the International Women’s Day, let’s join Orbis celebrate the achievements and contributions of Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh and female doctors, nurses and health workers in the eye care sector around the country. We hope to see many examples like Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh in the sector in the coming time.

Orbis would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Assoc. Prof. PhD. MD. Bui Thi Van Anh and our partners and colleagues who have supported Orbis in our journey to protect and restore vision for communities in Vietnam over the past years.

Why Is Blindness a Gender Issue?

Globally, 1.1 billion people live with vision loss, including blindness. Women and girls make up 55% of these people – that’s 112 million more women than men.

In many parts of the world gender inequality means women face additional barriers to accessing eye care that men don't:

  • Limited financial resources and time: Finances are often directed first toward other priorities, forcing women and girls to go without. Women are burdened with household and childcare responsibilities, which leaves them with little time to tend to their own needs.
  • Inability to travel and safety concerns: Women often have fewer options for travel than men and are more vulnerable to unsafe situations away from home. Older women may require assistance, which poor families cannot provide.
  • A lack of women eye health providers: For cultural or other reasons, women might not seek care from a male practitioner.
    • Globally, women represent only 25-30% of ophthalmologists and 35-45% of professionals-in-training, few of whom are in low- and middle-income countries.

What Has Orbis Done to Improve Access to Training for Women Around the Globe?

  • Cybersight, our online telemedicine and e-learning tool, allows women to access training at a time and location that’s convenient for them. Cybersight helps women eye care professionals to overcome obstacles by providing affordable, convenient ways to advance their career while continuing to fulfil their multiple roles, which often include caregiving responsibilities.

  • In 2021, we worked with Women In Ophthalmology and Seva Foundation to create “Women Leaders in Eye Health” (WLEH), a global virtual space and webinar series for women eye professionals to come together and strengthen their leadership. The WLEH program continues to pick up pace with the introduction of Gender Champions in partner hospitals and the implementation of program funding and leadership structure. More news on this exciting program to follow soon.

  • We are hiring a Gender Equality & Social Inclusion Advisor to help advance the Women Leaders in Eye Health Program and advance gender equality in all eye health programs.

  • We are running a “sandwich” fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology that is specifically designed to be more flexible to meet the needs of caregivers. “Sandwich” refers to how the one-year program is delivered in a “blended” fashion, with portions conducted online via Cybersight taking place before and after in-person training. Under the stewardship of long-term partner Dr. Suma Ganesh, three women took part in 2023.

These exciting offerings are only the beginning, and we know there is so much more to do to achieve gender equity in eye health. If you would like to help women ophthalmologists overcome additional barriers to eye care training and help more women and girls access quality eye care, you can donate below.


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