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The Power of Partnerships: Seeing is Believing

Published: 10.06.2024
Kashinath Bhoosnurmath President and CEO
Operation Eyesight Universal
: With my peers at the IAPB global event in 2023. Partnerships are the key to success in eliminating avoidable vision loss. When we partner, we go beyond eye health care, finding sustainable solutions that improve quality of life in countries, communities and lives.

We all believe and say, ‘Seeing is believing.’ I personally hold this belief dear and often repeat it, as it resonates deeply with me. As the President and CEO of Operation Eyesight Universal, my role is to show our growing global community how our collective actions – as employees and donors, as organizations and governments, as communities and individuals – are transforming our vision of eliminating avoidable vision loss into a reality, community by community.

When I travel to our communities of work, I see that eye health is about far more than sight. I have learnt that eye health is about children being able to learn, play and practice hygiene. It is about adults being able to earn a living, access clean water, herd animals, grow crops and care for children. It is about seniors who can meet friends, travel and chase grandchildren. Eye health is about reaching everyone in a community, addressing all avoidable vision loss issues and empowering the community to sustain their eye health. Often, this comes from partnerships. Actually, health and partnerships are so powerful that the United Nations (UN) has made them Sustainable Development Goals to create a more peaceful and prosperous world.

I am excited to attend the IAPB global event, 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE, in Mexico. As an elected IAPB board member and leader of Operation Eyesight, I will join hands with my peers in the eye health sector to address the five IAPB questions:

  1. What needs to be done to transform the vision of universal eye care into a global reality by 2030?
  2. What ground-breaking approaches will accelerate action and transform eye health?
  3. What steps can we take to embed conscious, inclusive and sustainable best practices across the eye health sector?
  4. What can we do to harness our strengths and diverse skills to increase momentum together to empower change?
  5. To address diverse needs and shape the future of eye health, how can we meet the rising demand and changing landscapes with strategic sustainable solutions?

My experience has shown me that the answers lie in partnerships. Together, we can build sustainable strategies that connect international agencies, governments, hospitals and health care workers, and extend into communities.

Partnerships at the strategic, implementational and program levels ensure that multiple players apply their strengths – sharing eye care data with international agencies to set global goals, informing national health and education policies to include eye health, supporting hospitals to train health care workers, and empowering communities to manage avoidable vision issues. Through partnerships, we have more visibility, influence and funding. We have more technical expertise and more community connections.

Over more than 60 years, Operation Eyesight has developed a sustainable model of community empowerment. I take great pride in our flagship model, which is not only sustainable but also scalable. This model serves as evidence of the successful implementation of the World Health Organization’s five recommendations outlined in its World Report on Vision 2019. I attribute the success of this model to our dedicated partners and the communities we serve.

When we partner with others, we become the bridge between health care services and communities. We start with the hospital and work down to the community and individual level. With the hospital, we identify a service area and build a vision centre. We then train local community health care workers. Our network of more than 2,000 community health care workers conduct door-to-door surveys, referring people in need to the vision centre for eye exams. Those who need greater care, such as cataract surgery, are referred to the local hospital. When all avoidable vision loss cases are addressed, the community is declared avoidable blindness-free, and they take ownership of their eye care.

We have seen this model work repeatedly. We are publishing research on it, replicating it, and harnessing partnerships to bring the model to new communities and countries.

In Mexico City, I plan to reconnect with current partners and meet new partners. I will learn from them about their perspectives on the five key questions IAPB is asking and share my views with them – drawing on my experience working for a Canada-based international development organization, in addition to my 35 years’ experience in the health sector at large. I hope to discuss what more Operation Eyesight can do to further strengthen our partnerships and chart a future course that allows us to collectively reach out to many more individuals and communities. I look forward to seeing so many global community members in Mexico City and to working together to answer the five IAPB questions. I believe that together, we have the power to transform eye health care – For All The World To See.

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