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December 1989

Ophthalmology in Malawi

Author Affiliations

Lilongwe, Malawi

Arch Ophthalmol. 1989;107(12):1826-1829. doi:10.1001/archopht.1989.01070020908038

Today more than 600 million people live in Africa.1 Yet despite high incidence and prevalence of avoidable blindness in every African nation, the ophthalmic manpower situation is deteriorating in the region. Currently there are fewer than 500 ophthalmologists working in Africa,2 for an ophthalmologist-population ratio of less than 1:1 million.

Malawi, through pragmatic health policies and modest resources, has developed a system of urban and rural eye care utilizing nonphysician eye care practitioners. Considering the resourcefulness and efficiency of its eye care system, Malawi's program is a model for other developing countries that seek to create and implement national blindness prevention activities.

PROFILE OF MALAWI AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION  At 45 747 sq mi (118 484 km2),3 Malawi is the size of Pennsylvania. The country is situated in southeastern Africa, bounded by Tanzania to the north and northeast, Mozambique to the southeast, south, and southwest, and Zambia