Dear Seva Supporters,
50 years of sight; that’s what Seva donors give a child each time they fund a pediatric cataract operation. Yet worldwide few children are receiving treatment because pediatric cataract surgery is complicated: it requires a specialized lens and general anesthesia, and it requires both a referral system to get children in for care as well as a follow-up system to ensure they get the glasses, additional treatment and low vision devices they need to achieve the best possible sight as they grow.
Parents do not know about available eye care services or whether they should give their children over to the medical team’s care. They must travel long distances and stay for days in hospitals, places where village people usually go to die. They will risk leaving their family, farm and community if they believe their child will have a better life.
Nowhere is community ophthalmology more powerful than when bringing children together with care. Nowhere do community workers, usually women, provide more awareness, facilitate access more personally or provide more community level support for the family involved. And nowhere are community women more important in supporting the years of ongoing care.
Seva- funded pediatric programs reach the most children and have the best results by:
- Using a multi-dimensional, community-based approach to find blind or visually impaired children
- Creating a tracking system for those children who have been identified
- Providing counselling to parents before and after surgery so they understand their critical role in ensuring the best possible outcome for their child
- Removing barriers by providing free transportation to hospital for children and parents
- Providing free medicine, anesthesia and surgery and,
- Creating a follow-up program to ensure children receive appropriate care, low vision devices, and educational placement.
An estimated 1.4 million children in the world are blind, more than half of them needlessly blind due to cataract. This treatment allows them to learn and lead productive, independent lives.
This is Dorothy Maduka, she is 8 years old and lives in Chikwawa District, Malawi. Her parents are farmers and she has 6 brothers and sisters.
Dorothy was found at home by a female community health worker going door to door in her village looking for children with eye problems. Dorothy had a developmental cataract and was blind in one eye. Thanks to Seva donors, Dorothy and her mother’s transportation to the hospital in Blantyre, their food and accommodation, the costs of the surgery and the ongoing costs of Dorothy’s follow-up care were all funded.
Thank you for bringing Dorothy 50 years of sight.