Over 1.4 million children around the world are blind and an astonishing 43 per cent of this is preventable. The number of children who are blind is set to increase, as an estimated 500,000 new cases of childhood blindness are reported each year. Across poor communities in low-income countries vitamin A deficiency and cataract are two of the major causes of childhood blindness.
To date almost a quarter of a million children around the world have been blinded by Vitamin A deficiency alone and a further 100 million children are at risk. Sightsavers works with local partners to prevent and cure a range of childhood blinding conditions, including cataract and trachoma.
Urgent, simple and sustained steps now need to be taken if vitamin A deficiency is to be eliminated by 2010. Sightsavers is already helping to facilitate the distribution of vitamin A as well as raising health and nutrition awareness. Children are missing out on vitally needed ingredients like palm oil, liver, fish, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and mangoes. A lack of vitamin A also increases the risk of life threatening deseases such as measles and diarrohea.
Celebrity chef, Vicky Bhogal says: ‘No child should lose their sight unnecessarily. To think that a child may go blind just because they go without a few simple types of food is staggering. Sightsavers is trying to eliminate all types of avoidable blindness, including blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency, and cataracts.’
Caroline Harper, Chief Executive of Sightsavers International says: ‘For hundreds of thousands of children in the poorest countries eating up their vegetables is vital if they don’t want to lose their sight. Foods rich in vitamin A and getting an eye check are all easy ways to prevent children losing their sight. Sadly children in the developing world are four times more likely to lose their sight than children in the UK.’
She continued: ‘Sightsavers is working through local partners to eradicate all the causes of childhood blindness and ensure that all children whether blind or sighted are socially included and have access to an education, their most direct route out of poverty.’
All the celebrity chefs partaking in this campaign have kindly donated new recipes rich in vitamin A to help publicise the campaign. They are available for free from: www.sightsavers.org/vitaminA