Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

Cure Blindness, Create Sustainable Eyecare Systems – A Global Model Highly Ranked

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Blindness isolates people from their world, leads to premature death, and burdens 2 ½ caretakers for each blind individual. Today over 36 million people are blind and the leading cause - cataracts - can be cured with a $25, 10-minute operation, restoring independence and dignity.HCP|CureBlindness has been working for 24 years in over 20 countries, and we’ve proven that needless blindness can be solved. Training, infrastructure, and programs are the hallmarks of our work. Each year we cure tens of thousands of people with our proven, validated, and published model. Working with ministries of health and other NGOs, we successfully reduced blindness by 2/3 in Nepal and are on track to do the same in Ghana and Ethiopia. Our organization is scaling rapidly with a committed board, quality systems, expanding staff, robust programs, and innovative public-private partnerships. This grant will cure 500,000 people and scale our sustainable systems.

Problem Statement

Needless blindness is a global epidemic with tragic consequences and identifiable solutions. Thirty-six million people are blind worldwide, yet 80% of this burden is treatable or preventable. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa shoulder some of the highest burdens of untreated blindness. An estimated 2.5 million people in Ethiopia and Ghana alone are blind from cataracts. Tragically, both countries lack the trained professionals and eyecare systems needed to care for expanding and aging populations. Ethiopia and Ghana have 2 and 4 ophthalmologists per million respectively; most practice in urban areas, leaving rural populations without care. The tragedies of blindness and inadequate eye care reverberate throughout a society: lives are shortened, dependency on family and the state is created, communities are robbed of laborers, and children are denied an education. In these economies, lost productivity from blindness amounts to $49 billion annually. The cost effectiveness and impact of treating blindness are known to be among the greatest in medicine - comparable to immunizations. Studies have shown a 400% return on every dollar invested in eliminating blindness. With a material cost of $25, cataract surgery can restore sight and life to a blind person in 10 minutes. This is not a temporary fix – it is a permanent cure. Few medical interventions exist that have as immediate, enduring, and transformative an impact. The solution to global blindness must combine this cost-effective, low-tech, high-volume surgical method with excellent training for local clinicians. This solution is proven and now depends on focus and funds.

Solution Overview

Our proposal offers the enduring solution for avoidable blindness. Through direct care we can permanently cure people. Through systems development we can create durable structures, based on human capital, that empower communities and enhance local capabilities. As proven through our work in Nepal, the creation of self-sustaining eyecare systems in Ghana and Ethiopia will depend on three prongs: Surgical Outreach Campaigns: High-volume, high-quality surgery creates synergies necessary for scale. Expert ophthalmic care teams will screen more than 4.2 million people and will restore sight to more than 500,000 people through small incision cataract surgery, refractive correction, trachoma surgery and other ophthalmic procedures.Workforce Training: We will scale programs to train the professionals required to perpetuate quality eyecare: surgeons, nurses, technicians, and community health workers. These people will become future leaders and expert trainers.Health System Improvement: We will increase the capacity of the healthcare systems to recognize and treat eye disease. This involves focusing on leadership, public health efforts, community based hospitals and clinics, and mobile-health technologies. These efforts produce clear, measurable outputs: the number of people directly treated, the visual improvement achieved, the number of health professionals trained, and the number of clinics capable of treating eye disease. And as we demonstrated in Nepal, these outputs are the foundation for transforming nascent eyecare systems into regional centers of excellence. With their strategic locations in east and west Africa, ultimately Ghana and Ethiopia will serve as models to influence and improve eyecare throughout the region.

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Project Funders

  • USAID ASHA 2005 - 2018
  • Nancy Allison Perkins Foundation 2005 - 2018
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation 2006 - 2018

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