Kashinath Bhoosnurmath President & CEO Operation Eyesight Universal
Whenever we declare a village Avoidable Blindness-Free, it’s a milestone for the whole community.
The 20 villages in Assam, India which our teams recently declared Avoidable Blindness-Free are no exception.
It was the result of months – and, in some cases, years – of work alongside the 3,000 residents in the area. It means that these communities are free of untreated cases of vision loss, and it also means that patients and families know where to access eye care when they need it in the future. In 2022, we declared 51 villages in our program areas as Avoidable Blindness-Free, including 30 villages across India.
“Many of the villages in Assam are on islands, making access to eye health services a challenge, let alone access to other health services,” says Tapobrat Bhuyan, Operation Eyesight’s program manager in the area. “The process of declaring a village Avoidable Blindness-Free requires community buy-in and partnership.”
In June 2023, Operation Eyesight celebrates 60 years of partnering with communities to prevent blindness and restore sight. Like the celebrations in Assam, our anniversary is an important milestone made possible through support from our global community of local physicians and community health workers, like-minded partners, local government departments, generous donors and communities themselves.
Operation Eyesight has grown to be one of the most well-established (and may I say forward thinking!) organizations in the global eye health sector. None of this would be possible without our partners across the globe. I am particularly grateful to IAPB for leading global eye health and supporting member organizations in sharing knowledge and magnifying impact.
Operation Eyesight is the brainchild of Art Jenkyns, a businessman from Calgary, Canada, who was inspired by the work of Dr. Ben Gullison. What started six decades ago as a partnership between generous Canadian donors and physicians performing cataract surgeries in Sompeta, India, has grown into a global community that is making quality, affordable eye health care available to those who need it most.
Today, we have established programs in eight countries across South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. With work underway to expand into three more countries, we are showing no signs of slowing down.
“Our team may be relatively small, but our vision for eye health is global in scope. We are grateful to our government and institutional partners, as well as others in the eye health sector for helping make our vision, the elimination of avoidable blindness, a reality,” says Alice Mwangi, our country director for Kenya. “Over 60 years, we have refined a unique model that empowers community members to look after their own eye health. The best part is that our community-focused model is replicable across countries and regions.”
Not only is our model replicable, but it’s also sustainable, because together we are addressing the root causes of vision loss, by improving access to healthcare, bringing clean water to communities, and supporting education and rights for women and girls. That’s why partnership is more important than ever before.
It’s proved true in Assam and it’s proving true in our other communities of work.
I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to our eye health partners and donors globally. Thank you for your commitment to our shared vision of the elimination of avoidable blindness. Thank you for your compassionate support for patients and their families. You have helped make 60 years of Operation Eyesight possible. As we look to the next 60 years, I look forward to continued partnership and collaboration as together we reach the unreached – For All The World To See.