Sustainable Eye Care Programs
Seva Foundation Sight Program

At Seva, we look for solutions that will be lasting. We define sustainability in the broadest sense — to mean that the programs we help to develop will have the ability to sustain themselves to the maximum extent possible over time. Ideally, this sustainability is independent of Seva in the long term.

In this context, sustainability means that local people have both the clinical knowledge to provide quality eye care and the skills to train others. It means that they have the capacity to effectively manage the program themselves, and the leadership capability to motivate their team, set the program's direction and plan for transition. Finally, it means that the program has the ability to be financially self-sufficient, and to produce or access the supplies and equipment it needs to offer quality eye care.

All of these elements contribute to the program's potential for sustainability — and Seva helps its partners develop each of them. 

Training Skilled Eye Care Personnel
More than anything, our approach to sustainability means investing in people.  Two of the greatest obstacles confronting eye care programs in developing countries are a shortage of trained eye care personnel and a lack of strong management systems.  Rather than sending Seva's own staff to run the programs, we train local people to provide care to their own communities.  They are the ones who know the community need best, and who will stay and train the next generation.  Over the years, we have helped provide clinical training for thousands of local eye care workers,

covering every aspect of eye care from cataract surgery to nutrition education to dispensing of eyeglasses.

Sustainable Program Models
Seva's principle partner in India, the Aravind Eye Care System, demonstrated how cost recovery could be turned into financial self-sufficiency. They pioneered a model of high volume, high quality care in which fees charged to those who can afford them subsidize free or low-cost care for those who cannot.

Seva has applied this approach to other programs, helping to establish a pricing system for eye care services that will ensure financial sustainability. In Nepal, for example, we worked with the Lumbini Eye Institute to establish a system in which approximately 80% of the patients pay a basic amount for their eye care, about 10% pay a higher level, and the poorest 10% receive free care. Within a year of establishing this pricing structure, Lumbini Hospital was financially self-sufficient for its operating costs. Seva is now adapting this successful model for programs in other countries around the world.

Volunteer Trainers and Mentors
Seva offers our program partners access to ongoing guidance and support through a network of expert volunteers who serve as trainers and mentors. To select volunteers, we use the following criteria: professional and international experience, interest in collaborative service and learning, and above all, flexibility. We seek volunteers who can work cooperatively with our partners as trainers in a variety of professional fields. Please see our Sight Program Volunteers page for more information.


Seva and Grameen

Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, are partnering with Seva to build a network of eye hospitals in Bangladesh

Sight Volunteers
If you're an ophthalmologist or other health professional, you may be interested in volunteering with Seva's Sight Programs


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