The Right to Health project

This programme aimed to break down barriers to eye health for hard-to-reach communities in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

A doctor conducts an eye sight test.

The Right to Health programme finished in 2021.
It focused on restoring and protecting people’s sight, and ensuring health services were accessible for people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

By addressing avoidable visual impairments, the programme, which was funded by the UK government through UK Aid Match, aimed to reduce poverty and contribute to achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals.


people received treatment through the programme
people received cataract surgery
people accessed refractive error services

Why was it needed?

People living with disabilities in Bangladesh and Pakistan experience profound challenges. Disability exacerbates poverty for the whole family because of increased expenses, lack of income (due to caring responsibilities) and reduced opportunities (due to social exclusion). In Bangladesh, for each person an estimated 10.1 years of health is lost as a result of disability; in Pakistan, this is 9.6 years (source: WHO and World Bank World Report on Disability). This is particularly acute for women and girls with disabilities, as they face additional challenges because of gender inequality.

This can be addressed through appropriately targeted health services and the development of approaches which include disability and gender considerations. The Right to Health programme aimed to contribute to building a society where all people can access services, and where lessons learned can affect other health areas, in line with the UK Department for International Development’s disability framework.

UK Aid logo.
An eye health worker shines a torch into Bristy's eye during an eye exam.
Bristy gets her eyes tested at an eye camp in Kurigram, Bangladesh. © Sightsavers/Reza Shahriar Rahman.

How did it work?

Services were targeted to reach some of the most neglected and hardest-to-reach populations who were unlikely to benefit from standard health care services. The project was delivered in partnership with local partner eye care hospitals and ministries of health at national and district levels. To reach the most marginalised groups, the programme ran inclusive eye health screening camps, and targeted outreach was developed in collaboration with local disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), community-based organisations and self-help groups.

The programme ran in Rangpur, Rajshahi and Dhaka divisions in Bangladesh, and Baluchistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces in Pakistan.

More from the project

Shamima and her child Toha in Bangladesh. There's an illustrated ring of small dots surrounding their faces.
Sightsavers stories

It started with a tuk-tuk: Shamima’s story

Shamima, who has hearing and speech impairments, was able to access vital treatment after her sister heard about Sightsavers’ free eye camps.

A large group of transgender women pose for a photo.
Sightsavers stories

“Now we can get the help we need”

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Right to Health project worked with transgender communities to remove the barriers they face when accessing inclusive eye health services.

A man wearing sunglasses smiles with his two happy grandchildren.
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“Now I can see again, I can make money to support my family”

Father and grandfather Sardar from Pakistan is the main breadwinner for his family. But his children and grandchildren faced an uncertain future when he began to develop cataracts.

Two women standing outside.
Sightsavers stories

Reaching Bangladesh’s transgender community

The transgender community often experiences discrimination and can find it hard to access healthcare. Meet some of the people who benefited from a Sightsavers eye health screening aimed at marginalised groups.

Many people sit outside waiting for an eye examination.
Sightsavers stories

Nine steps to holding pop-up eye screening camps on the doorsteps of marginalised communities

In February 2020, Sightsavers' Kirsty Bridger visited Bangladesh to learn how we organise our eye screening camps.

A man with a physical disability sits outside.
Sightsavers stories

A lightning strike changed Yousuf’s life forever

Yousuf has come up against decades-long hardships, but with with a sight-saving cataract operation, life is finally looking better. Here, he shares his remarkable story.