Above: A woman has her sight restored through cataract surgery thanks to support from Seva donors.
Below: A woman has her eyes examined.
Bottom: A woman has a vision test to determine her visual acuity.
Approximately 285 million people around the world today are blind or suffer from visual impairment; most live in developing countries. Yet, in eight out of ten cases, their blindness and low vision can be prevented or treated with proven, cost-effective interventions.
To reach the many people in need of eye care, Seva has been awarded two grants from Standard Chartered Bank's Seeing is Believing Initiative.
While celebrating the Bank's 150-year anniversary in 2003, Standard Chartered employees were asked to decide on a charity initiative for the Bank to support. After recognizing the lack of quality eye health care in the developing world, Standard Chartered employees overwhelmingly voted to raise funds to support blindness prevention programs. Seeing is Believing was born.
Through these grants, Seeing is Believing supports key Seva initiatives to improve access to eye care in two countries: Cambodia and India.
In Cambodia, Seva and our partners are increasing the number of sight-saving cataract surgeries that take place across five districts with a total population of 3.6 million people. This work will also grow the community eye health outreach programs that provide examinations and glasses to people in need. The grant will support nine eye camps in rural areas that will provide screenings, surgeries and medical treatment to nearly 100,000 people. In addition, work done through this grant will focus on increasing access to eye care for women and girls who account for two-thirds of people who are needlessly blind worldwide.
In India, Seva is scaling comprehensive quality eye care services with a focus on capacity building, expanding work already underway through Seva’s Global Sight Initiative. Currently, India has the highest population of people who are blind in the world—a staggering 12 million people. Over 60% are blind from cataract. Seva and six Global Sight Initiative mentor hospitals will work with 50 mentee hospitals in 15 states across India to increase the number of sight-restoring surgeries provided by 50% over the next four years. This visionary goal will be achieved by working closely with partner hospitals to increase the quality and efficiency of eye care services, train key staff, strategically purchase new equipment and emphasize collecting and understanding hospital data to make better decisions. Most of the partner hospitals are positioned to serve low-resource communities that have a profound need for eye care services. These 50 partner hospitals have the potential to serve almost 100 million people.
The impact of Seva’s grants through Seeing is Believing will forever change the landscape of eye care in these two countries.
We applaud the employees of Standard Chartered Bank for their very real commitment to ending global blindness through the Seeing is Believing Initiative. Together we are addressing the needless suffering caused by blindness and visual impairment right now, while developing long-term, permanent solutions to a major public health problem.