Saloni Nagpaul Communications and Campaigns Officer IAPB
In the week of the 18th of July, I along with several members of the IAPB Communications and Campaigns team had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the fantastic work some (I say some because we have so many members working in India) of our members do on-ground in the Delhi and the National Capital Region. Our visits to VisionSpring and Sightsavers India projects (and offices), were all part of the next phase of our #LoveYourEyes campaign showing our member’s delivering accessible, available, and affordable eye care.
IAPB’s LoveYourEyes campaign launched in 2021 and challenges everyone to consider the health of their eyes, and if they are able, to have their eyes checked.
Delivering eye care to school kids
Our first visit was to a school – Soami Nagar Model School – where VisionSpring were holding a screening. The IAPB team had the opportunity to learn about the work they are doing – reaching and providing affordable and quality glasses to all those who need them. It was wonderful interacting with the students and watching the VisionSpring staff at work. A real-life example of how important it is for children to “see to learn”.
Delivering eye care to truckers
India is home to over 9 million truck drivers. Given the nature of their work, which involves driving long distances, health, including eye care, is not always a priority. Several studies including one by the Lancet have established poor vision is a factor in road traffic accidents.
Sightsavers India through their programme called ‘RAAHI’- National Truckers Eye Health Programme is targeting this very population. They target drivers across the golden quadrilateral and North South-East West in India organizing camps. They have established a network wherein a driver could be examined at one location and receive his glasses at another location where he is heading next. This is just one of many fantastic programmes run by IAPB members across The South East Asian region targeting drivers.
The IAPB team had the pleasure of attending one such camp in Faridabad, where we not only met with the Sightsavers India team, but we also spoke to several drivers who had never had an eye exam. Several of them said they experienced eye strain and headaches but the thought of getting an eye exam had not occurred to them. The reason they visited the camp was because it was free, highlighting the fact that eye care is not always affordable for everyone.
For many of us in the IAPB team day to day we communicate the importance of accessible, available and affordable eye care but for me and several of my colleagues this was the first time witnessing the work that IAPB members do on the ground and speaking directly to the beneficiaries of this work.
It was immensely gratifying to witness the scale at which Sightsavers and VisionSpring are working to bring eye health services to the 1.1 billion people around the world who have a problem with their eye health and do not have access to accessible, affordable and available eye health.
The IAPB team is extremely grateful to VisionSpring and Sightsavers India who hosted our visit and helped us launch the next stage of our #LoveYourEyes campaign.