Flagship program recognized as best practice

Written by Admin, published on August 5, 2014 Donate Today

Operation Eyesight has been part of many dramatic changes in India since we started working in the country in 1963. Over the past decade, in particular, India has experienced strong economic growth, and has become a force in the global economy.

Yet despite a remarkable increase in wealthy individuals, life for the vast majority of Indians has not improved. A large proportion of the population still lacks access to quality health care; and while the country has 17.5 percent of the world’s population, it has 20.5 percent of the world’s blind. Another 54 million people struggle with low vision, much of it untreated. There is still much work for us to do in India!

That’s why we are proud to offer our own solution: an innovative program that, when widely implemented, has the potential to actually eliminate avoidable blindness from the service areas of eye hospitals. Our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program is designed to provide comprehensive eye care and blindness prevention to India’s poorest people.

Developed by our India staff and piloted in 2010, this program has been implemented by 25 of our Indian hospital partners and has already made a considerable impact in the fight against avoidable blindness.

In 2013, our model was enthusiastically endorsed by Vision 2020 India, a national eye health advocacy group. The group is encouraging all Indian hospitals to adopt Operation Eyesight’s model, regardless of whether they are in direct financial partnership with us.

Our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program engages communities, increases economic opportunity and enhances the sustainability of services, thanks to the communities taking ownership.
Our model also promotes gender equality, as we recruit and train local women as community workers. The women perform tasks like door-to-door surveys and screenings, referring those with eye problems to the proper facility and making follow-up visits.
Community health workers also provide information about other issues like malnutrition, polio, malaria and prenatal and postnatal issues, with the goal of promoting health in their communities.
The program has seen a significant increase in the number of patients screened and treated in each hospital, with a corresponding increase in hospital revenue that can finance vision centres.
We have been able to create avoidable blindness-free villages in the services areas of our partner hospitals, which is the ultimate goal of the program. This village, Manthangowrelly, was declared avoidable blindness-free in March, meaning that no person in the village – whose vision loss is curable – is suffering from a visual acuity of less than 6/60 in the better eye. (By Canadian standards this means no one – whose eyesight is reversible – is legally blind.)
We are currently expanding this model to our Africa programs, with some early successes.

With the support of our donors and the successful implementation of our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program, we are demonstrating that the elimination of avoidable blindness is possible!

You can read more about our Programs and Projects on our website.