Based in Campinas, Brazil, UNICAMP has been a leader in the field of blindness prevention for Brazil, Latin America and the world for the past thirty years. One of the most important actions of the team in the mid-1980’s was the first cataract-free zone project for Latin America. This early work led to a veritable revolution in the way not only cataract, but also all eye diseases were handled in Latin America. This was a true public health based approach, which had not existed anywhere in the continent. For the first time, clinicians went into the field to identify patients who needed care and then provided that care in a cost efficient manner. The movement quickly spread to all the countries of the continent. South America is a self-sufficient model for blindness prevention activities. Initiatives in all areas of eye diseases are being undertaken. Government funding is linked with private philanthropy to address the pressing needs of the population. In the latest Global Burden of Disease data, the blindness rate for this region has dropped to 0.4%, giving it the second lowest rate in the world.
Now thirty years later, UNICAMP continues to lead these efforts. Its clinics see many thousands of individuals each year and perform thousands of eye surgeries. It is one of the most productive eye units on the continent. Not only with clinical efforts, UNICAMP trains the next generation of leaders in ophthalmic public health with programs offering doctorates in ophthalmology. Research in the latest disease control activities complete the triad of clinical care, education and research that mark the most successful departments of ophthalmology. UNICAMP leads in all of these. A look at the leadership of the institution shows a tradition of capable, well-respected ophthalmologists, who are active participants in discussions at the national and global levels. Professor Carlos Arieta is a dynamic leader who has served UNICAMP in many roles for thirty five years.
He is committed to making the department only stronger in the future. He has served in the team and also coordinator of the Latina America Cataract sub committee of Vision 2020 programme.
In summary, UNICAMP is a highly successful center for state of the art ophthalmic care and blindness prevention activities. It has achieved this status largely with self-funding, which makes it completely sustainable. The institution shares its talents unselfishly with other institutions throughout the continent and in Lusophone countries around the world. UNICAMP is a model for eye departments everywhere.