A strong and confident studentProgramme name: Holistic programme for the Development of Visually Impaired Children (HODVIC) 
Dates: 2018-2023
Key partner: Presbyterian Health Service
Visio contact: Jan Til, 

Who we serve

Approximately 10% of Ghanaians, or 3.3 million people, are affected by vision loss in some way. About 2% (660,000 people) have a severe visual impairment or are blind. Around 54,500 of them are under the age of 20. 

The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment is highly correlated to age. Between 0.2 and 0.5% of children and teenagers are blind or severely visually impaired. For 40-50 year olds, the figure is 0.3%, but it is 19.5% for people over 80. 

The prevalence of blindness is higher in rural areas (0.79%) than in urban areas (0.69%). Women are slightly more affected than men (55% against 45%).

Most vision loss could have been avoided or mitigated if patients had been detected early and treated properly.

: A student learning how to use an iPad


What we do

  • We train eye health personnel to provide better eye care services in clinics, hospitals, schools and communities to ensure early detection and treatment, particularly in children
  • We train specialist teachers, focusing on specific subjects such as sports education.
  • We provide intensive support to social workers so they are better equipped to reach out to visually impaired children and their families. We also provide them with financial support so they can provide such support more readily.
  • We support activities to empower visually impaired people. For example, we support school clubs and provide assistive devices.
  • We have helped the Ghana Blind Union to scale up its work to raise awareness in communities and via radio and TV. 
  • We work with parents and care givers to enable them to unleash the full potential of visually impaired children under their care.
  • We help civil society to lobby at both district and national levels for affordable and accessible services for people with visual impairments. 

Where we work

We work in seven districts with special schools for children with a visual impairment:
  • Wa district (Upper West Region)
  • Tano (Ahafo)
  • North Tongu, Central Tongu, Hoehoe (Volta)
  • Akwapem (Eastern)
  • Cape Coast (Central).
We also work at the national level to raise awareness about visual impairment and influence policymakers. All interventions aim to benefit children with visual impairment.

Visually impaired student washing the dishes


How we work

The Holistic programme for the Development of Visually Impaired Children started in 2018 and is now in its second phase.
The aim is to contribute to “A Ghana where partially sighted and blind children, aged 0-15, develop their full potential and participate in an inclusive society, at home, school and in communities.” 
The programme has three main strategies:
  1. Empowerment. Empowerment activities for visually impaired children and their caretakers, and activities to make society more understanding and supportive to visually impaired people.
  2. Quality of services. Assistance to service providers in health, education and social welfare to provide better services to visually impaired children.
  3. Access to information and services. Support for civil-society initiatives to influence decision makers to make services affordable and accessible to all. 
The first phase of the programme (2018-21) focused on support to service providers, dealing with young children (up to the age of 6), particularly social workers and eye health workers. The idea was to enhance the quality and outreach of screening and assessment to identify eye problems early on, and to link diagnosed children to the support system.  

This work to strengthen the capacity of service providers continues in the second phase (2022-24), but the collaboration with education services has gained importance because we also target children (aged 6-18) in schools. We have also put more emphasis on raising public awareness and on lobbying and advocacy.

Blind student making a heart sign with his hands


Our partners

The Holistic programme for the Development of Visually Impaired Children is hosted by the Presbyterian Health Service, part of the Department of Development and Social Services of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. The church has a good reputation as a development agent in Ghana. The Presbyterian Health Service is a major player in health service delivery. It currently runs 57 health institutions and programmes.
  • The Presbyterian Health Service has close relations with various other partners:
  • The National Eye Care Unit is a government institution coordinating eye-health initiatives in Ghana.
  • The Department of Children is part of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
  • The Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service.
  • The University of Wineba conducts research and gathers evidence in support of our interventions.
  • The Ghana Blind Union conducts awareness-raising and lobbying. 
The programme collaborates closely with district NGOs to raise awareness locally. These include:
  • Blind Sparks (Hohoe district)
  • Desert Spring (North Tongu, Central Tongu)
  • ANOPA (Cape Coast).
We also work with media organizations on public awareness.

Our impact

Since 2022, we have directly reached over 8,000 children with visual impairments. We have trained 91 visual-impairment professionals and over 500 parents. We have reached  thousands of people through district awareness-raising campaigns and community meetings in all seven districts. We have reached far larger audiences nationwide via radio, TV and newspapers.

More information