Seva Foundation

Scaling Sight: Ending Preventable Blindness in Guatemala and Beyond Highly Ranked

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Project Summary

Worldwide, 285 million people are blind or have debilitating visual impairment. Yet, solutions exist to cure or prevent 80% of their conditions. Seva Foundation proposes to scale our proven GSI eye care delivery model nationally in Guatemala and create the platform to subsequently extend throughout Latin America. Near the end of the project period, we will lay the groundwork to expand to Mexico and Paraguay. Our project will incorporate an innovative digital data component that will both accelerate and demonstrate impact.Guatemala, population 17 million, is small enough to end preventable blindness. Its primary healthcare system structure is the same or similar to others in the region, as are its challenges. Our local partner of 13 years, Visualiza, is poised to expand its current operation, a GSI model, into a national nonprofit eye care system. Regaining their sight, marginalized people will regain independence, economic productivity, and human dignity.

Problem Statement

Worldwide, 285 million people suffer from blindness or debilitating visual impairment--effectively a life sentence of misery for impoverished people in the developing world. Unable to work, those who cannot see become a burden on their relatives. Isolated from community activities, they lose their independence and basic human dignity. Loss of sight for one individual can trigger an economic crisis for the entire family.Tragically, affordable treatments exist that could restore sight to 80% of those affected by blindness and visual impairment. For example, cataracts--accounting for 51% of global blindness--can be reversed with a 15-minute operation. And the main cause of moderate to severe visual impairment can be solved with eye glasses.But in Guatemala, as in much of the Global South, ophthalmologists and eye hospitals use models of eye care that are not efficient enough to meet the national demand for early detection and for sight-restoring interventions. So 600,000+ people live with debilitating levels of vision loss. Travel to distant cities, where eye care is concentrated, is an insurmountable barrier to accessing care for many residents of rural areas. This is particularly true for marginalized communities such as those living in poverty, isolated rural communities, and indigenous persons.Leverage points at which we could potentially activate transformational change are:1.Distribution of services2.Productivity of ophthalmologists3.Efficiency of eye hospitals4.Public awareness of services5.Affordability of eyeglasses and supplies

Solution Overview

Scaling the GSI model nationally will restore and preserve sight for Guatemalans who suffer from cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other increasingly common conditions, including those that can be corrected with eyeglasses.Main components of our solution are: 1. ACCESS: Provide high-quality eye care in underserved non-urban areas with five new regional hospitals and 30 vision centers throughout the country. Vision centers will use telemedicine, locally-recruited paraprofessionals, and technology to deliver primary eye care in the community and refer complex cases to hospitals. 2. EFFICIENCY: Train ophthalmologists around the country in innovative high-volume practices, dramatically increasing the efficiency and productivity of providers.3. AWARENESS: Build public awareness and acceptance through intensive outreach/marketing.5. AFFORDABILITY: Build out the supply chain for affordable eyeglasses and ophthalmic supplies.6. INNOVATION: Test new technology to drive affordability and efficiency. 7. EVIDENCE: Document the ROI of the GSI model, positioning it for future investments to scale in Mexico and Paraguay.Progress toward the goal of ending preventable blindness will be evaluated relative to vision outcomes and indicators of preventable blindness nationwide.After five years, the project will have built out the self-sustaining GSI model nationally and achieved broad impact for the entire country. Beneficiaries of the project will include those most affected by vision loss or degradation yet who currently have the least access to care, e.g., rural poor, geographically isolated indigenous communities, children, and the elderly.

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Project Funders

  • Jerry Jones (major donor) 2018
  • Lavelle Fund for the Blind 2006 - Ongoing
  • So Hum Foundation 2012 - 2019

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