Community Assisted and Financed Eye Care Project

A. V. Ramakrishna Prasad surveying residents of Kalavalapalli

Eyesight International (Canada) and the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute have created a self-insurance pilot project never before attempted in the developing world. The objective of the project is to build a comprehensive eye care system funded by the communities it serves.

Starting with a rural population of about 50,000 from fifteen villages in West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh State, India, Eyesight International (Canada) and L.V. Prasad are enumerating the residents, identifying their needs, enrolling them in the project and commencing treatment of those who require immediate assistance. This will be followed by educational and preventative measures to reduce unnecessary blindness and visual impairment in the future. An agreement to provide the medical services required has been made with the Rajeshwari Ramakrishnan Lions Eye Hospital in Nidadavole.

This is a three-year project with a budget of $75,000. The initial start up and service costs are being funded by grants from Eyesight International (Canada). Within three years, it is expected that the project will be completely self-sustaining through premiums paid by the residents of one rupee per month per person (about 3 cents Canadian or 2 cents U.S.). Almost everyone should be able to afford this premium. However, if any residents are not able to afford the premium, landowners or business owners will be asked to sponsor them.

Registration began on October 11, 2001, World Sight Day. In the first year of the project, over 12,000 residents were enrolled, paying a yearly premium in advance. About 4000 patients were seen at the hospital and more than 400 sight restoring surgeries were performed.

It is expected that the project will be extended to other villages as its benefits are observed in neighboring communities. Ultimately, Eyesight International (Canada) and L.V. Prasad hope that the project will be expanded to include all medical services, not just eye care.

This is a unique experiment which could revolutionize the delivery of eye care, and possibly other areas of health care, in the developing world.

To see a report of our visit to this project in February 2002, see Visit Report - VFEP.

To learn about those who have been helped by this project see Those We Help.