The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – to join a global partnership to achieve peace and prosperity for everyone living in the world today and in the future. All the of SDGs are linked. The SDGs were developed with the understanding that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth. The SDGs also take into account the importance of fighting climate change.
At Operation Eyesight, we too are part of the global partnership working to achieve the SDGs through our work. Our vision is the elimination of avoidable blindness in the countries where we work (India, Nepal, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia). We prevent blindness and restore sight by focusing on community eye health, hospital improvement and disease control. Our commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to quality eye health care involves a lot more than just Good Health and Well-Being (SDG #3). Our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program model is helping to achieve all of the following SDGs:
Sadly, 80 percent of blindness is preventable or is treatable. But for millions of people in developing countries blindness is a reality due to poverty, lack of eye health awareness, poor eye health-seeking behaviour and a lack of access to eye health services. In developing countries, blindness can be a death sentence. Without sight, people are robbed of their ability to provide for themselves and their family. When people can see, they can work and go to school. By preventing blindness and restoring sight, we break the cycle of poverty by helping entire families escape impoverishment (SDG #1 no poverty).
As a Calgary-based international development organization, we believe in providing the “best for the poorest,” regardless of age, gender, race, caste, religion, location or ability to pay (SDG #10 reduced inequalities). To accomplish our goals, we partner with local hospitals, governments and organizations, and other eye health INGOs (SDG #17 partnerships for the goals).
We’ve developed a unique, sustainable model — our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program — that integrates primary eye care into primary health care, providing communities with access to eye care services (SDG #3 good health and well-being). Our goal is to not only improve people’s eye health, but their general health as well. We empower communities to take responsibility and ownership of their eye health and general health needs.
We also train women in the community as community health workers and empower them to find solutions to their communities’ eye health needs. This provides them with a means to earn an income, increase their status within their families and contribute to society (SDG #5 gender equality; SDG #1 no poverty).
In many developing countries, women and girls are the family caregivers. When a mother goes blind, it is the eldest daughter who is often forced to quit school and take care of her family. When a mother’s sight is restored, she can continue as the primary caregiver, allowing her daughter to return to school and create a brighter future for herself, just like her male counterparts (SDG #4 quality education).
In Africa, we are working to eliminate the blinding eye disease trachoma, caused by a bacterial infection which is easily spread due to unsafe sanitation practices. With our partners, we’ve introduced community-led sanitation programs which include drilling boreholes to provide clean water and constructing latrines (SDG #6 clean water and sanitation). The boreholes are closer to home, which means girls can spend more time at school and less time fetching water (SDG #4 quality education/SDG #5 gender equality). With a source of water nearby, families can also grow vegetable gardens and raise livestock, which leads to better nutrition (SDG #3 good health and well-being).
Compassionate people like you are making it possible to bring quality eye care to EVERYONE, regardless of their gender, age, race, location or ability to pay.
Thanks to supporters like you, millions of people have had their sight restored or preserved. Children have gone back to school. Parents have gone back to work. Grandparents are watching their grandkids grow up. Entire communities are now avoidable blindness-free. And it’s all because of YOU. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!