Dear Seva Canada Supporters,

For those of us interested or involved in the global fight against blindness, 2020 is an important year. This is the year when the main causes of preventable and treatable blindness were to have been eliminated. In 1999, VISION 2020 was launched by the World Health Organization and over 20 non-government organizations, including Seva Canada, dedicated themselves to the prevention and management of blindness.

Worldwide, we haven’t done what we hoped we would. Why not? There are many competing priorities in health and a lack of understanding of poor vision’s impact on people’s broader socioeconomic outcomes. Poor vision can have a deep impact on education and work opportunities, but its urgency is overshadowed by infectious diseases, natural disasters, famine, and political instability. Even in situations where relevant government ministries understand the importance of eye care and are eager to address it, they are often faced with questions on what to do, where to start, and how to increase access to eye care services. It’s not as simple as giving away free glasses or flying in foreigners to do surgery. Health interventions require substantial local investment in infrastructure, training and population-level behavior change.

While some countries have almost reached VISION 2020’s goal, most have not. Eye care organizations have made enormous gains in the fight against blindness and visual impairment. People living in remote and rural area have far greater access to high-quality eye care and the focus on reaching women and girls has lessened the gender disparity in the treatment of blindness. 

We are clearly moving in the right direction with high-quality, financially sustainable eye care services provided by locally trained professionals. However, if we are to achieve our goal of a world free of avoidable blindness, we must accelerate expansion of successful eye care programs to meet population needs and take better advantage of government health systems, albeit often very poorly funded in most low-income settings. More and more, we need to introduce local funding innovations for revenue generation while still serving the poor. Only then will preventable and treatable blindness be eradicated.

Penny Lyons,

Executive Director

Seva Canada

Sight Stories and News

  • Eye Care Training in Nepal - Creating Sustainable Programs

    "I, (Dr. Marty Spencer, Seva Canada Board Member), just returned from a trip to Nepal for Seva Canada. I have been making these trips to many of the countries that Seva operates in since the 80’s. Like snowflakes, they’re never alike, even though I have been to Nepal about 15 times. I go to teach, but almost always learn even more." Read our blog to learn about Dr. Spencer's trip and how you are helping to create sustainable eye care programs by training locals to care for their own communities.

    Blog | March 28th, 2020
  • How Seva Canada's Program Partners Are Doing During COVID -19

    Most medical personnel working with Seva Canada are now focused on providing support to their local hospitals and clinics in any way they can. Hospital beds and equipment are being reallocated to provide medical care to those in greater need. They are practicing ‘Seva’ – selfless service.

    Blog | March 28th, 2020
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming

    Epidemiologist and Seva Co-Founder, Larry Brilliant, who warned of pandemic in 2006, says we can beat the novel coronavirus—but first, we need lots more testing...14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like.

    Blog | March 20th, 2020