Even in high-income countries like the United States, millions of people do not have access to proper vision care. One group that suffers disproportionately from avoidable blindness and visual impairment are Native American communities. Seva seeks to address this disparity through our American Indian Sight Initiative. For over thirty years, we have worked to improve the health and wellbeing of the indigenous people of the U.S.
Over the past year, Seva and First Nations Community HealthSource have researched ways to make eye care more available to Native Americans living in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Public health organizations that specifically serve Native Americans in urban settings are often underfunded, leaving many urban Natives without adequate healthcare. First Nations has provided medical care and social services for Urban Natives in Albuquerque for 47 years. However, comprehensive eye care services have never been available.
In 2019, First Nations conducted an informal needs assessment to determine the eye care needs of their patients. They found that 87% of adult respondents indicated that they experienced vision problems and felt they needed glasses. Together with First Nations, Seva hopes to meet the unmet eye care needs of Albuquerque's Native American population. We plan to develop an eye care clinic that comprehensively provides vision care services for the estimated 56,000 Urban Natives living in the area. Additionally, we hope to make eyeglasses accessible to those who cannot afford them by covering the costs.
As Seva helps provide some of the initial start-up clinic costs, we are looking to make vision care a sustainable service for First Nations in the long term.
"We appreciate the opportunity to develop a program for our community based on our community's needs," says Linda Son-Stone, CEO of First Nations. "This is new territory for us. Seva's been very helpful for us in directing us and linking us to those resources that we will need to make this a successful project."
Seva's American Indian Sight Initiative focuses on the most common and treatable eye health issues found in American Indian communities. We work with our partners to increase access to eye screenings, eyeglasses, and eye care.
JoVonna Rosetta grew up on the Santo Domingo Pueblo near Santa Fe, New Mexico. After losing her glasses halfway through high school, she was unable to cover the cost of a new pair. Without glasses, JoVonna's grades suffered. "I was sitting in the front row and still couldn't see the board," she laughs, recalling her teacher's solution to sit next to a classmate who takes good notes.
Santa Fe Public Radio recently interviewed Seva's Executive Director, Jack Blanks, about the launch of our new American Indian Sight Initiative. The podcast of this interview is available online and we invite you to learn more about this exciting new initiative serving Native American communities throughout New Mexico.
For over 30 years, Seva and our donors have been committed to improving the health and wellbeing of American Indian communities throughout the United States.
For over 30 years, Seva Foundation's Native American program has been providing support to Native American communities. This year, we are proud to announce the launch of a new focus, the American Indian Sight Initiative, a U.S. based program focused on addressing vision needs among Native Americans.
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