Dr. Paul J. Dubord, the founder of Eyesight International (Canada),
has been appointed the Medical Director of Operation Eyesight Universal,
a leading Canadian non profit organization in the field of eye care.
Mr. James Killam of Eyesight International (Canada) has been appointed
to the Board of Directors of Operation Eyesight Universal. Eyesight
International hopes to work with Operation Eyesight Universal on joint
projects in the future.
In February, 2003, representatives of Eyesight International conducted
a site review of its projects in India. In addition, meetings were held
with the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, the Venue Eye Institute and the
Shroff Charity Eye Hospital to discuss future projects.
Also in February 2003, representatives of Eyesight International attended
the Vision 2020 Task Force meeting in Geneva in conjunction with Operation
To date, over 17,000 residents of selected rural villages in West Godavari
District, Andhra Pradesh, India have registered in the CAFÉ project
of Eyesight International. This unique project is using a modified health
insurance model to bring eye care to people who currently have no access
to services. Residents pay 1 rupee per month for comprehensive eye care.
Over 5600 residents have been seen at the project hospital and over
570 sight restoring surgeries have been performed. For more information,
see CAFÉ Project.
Training of the staff of our partner hospitals in Yacharam and Suryapet,
India, through our Rural Eye Care Project has now been largely completed.
Eyesight International, in partnership with the Canadian International
Development Agency, is working with the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute to
transform two small and inefficient facilities into financially self-sustaining
centres delivering high quality eye care to communities of about 500,000
each. To date the hospitals in Yacharam and Suryapet have seen over
33,000 patients. More than 1,780 surgeries have been performed. For
more information, see Rural Eye Care Project.
Infections, malnutrition and lack of eye care in the
developing world result in blindness rates 10 to 40 times greater than
in industrial countries. And the situation is worsening: The number
of visually disabled is expected to double by the year 2020.
Blindness and visual impairment is a preventable personal
disaster that brings misery to millions, inflicting an enormous and
unnecessary economic burden on families, communities and countries.
In 1998, the World Health Organization estimated the direct economic
cost of the global burden of blindness to be $25 billion; the total
cost, borne almost entirely by the developing world, may be closer to
$50 or even $75 billion.
The tragedy is that 80% of the cases of blindness and
visual impairment could be avoided or cured at modest cost. Avoiding
and curing blindness is recognized as one of the most cost effective
At least half of those who are already blind can be
cured with medical procedures that are widely available in the developed
world. Increasing the availability and quality of corneal transplantation
could cure even more. However, despite many programs, a self-sustaining
approach to reduce the incidence of blindness and low vision has not
yet materialized on a significant scale. To permanently reduce blindness,
programs must be developed which can ultimately be sustained by the
communities they serve.
There are many areas of the developing world where there
are no eye care services available. In addition, where services are
available in the developing world, they are often of poor quality and
inefficiently delivered. For example, a recent study by one of the Eyesight
International Group's partners, the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute of Hyderabad,
India and the University of Melbourne identified that over 50% of cataract
surgeries performed in an urban area of Andhra Pradesh had poor or very
poor outcomes. This results in a reluctance to seek care, even when
it is available.
To overcome these barriers, high quality services must
be developed, low quality services must be eliminated, outreach programs
must be established and self-sustaining financial structures must be
implemented with the support of the communities they serve. These are
the goals of the Eyesight International Group.