Working in Cambodia since 1998, Seva provides high-quality eye care to a population of 2.5 million people – about 1/5 of the Cambodian population. In Cambodia, 17.7% of people live below the poverty line and 181,680 people are blind. Each year, an additional 6,000 people lose their sight.
By supporting eye care facilities in five Cambodian provinces, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampot and Pursat, Seva is able to serve people who might not otherwise have access to eye care. Many of Seva’s services are provided in the country’s Northern provinces, areas that are still recovering from the rule of the Khmer Rouge, a rule that resulted in three decades of armed conflict, economic deprivation and the killing of one-fifth of Cambodia’s population.
Currently, only 7% of Cambodia’s total GDP is spent on health care. There is also a shortage and misdistribution of health manpower, infrastructure, training programs and facilities to tackle Cambodia’s eye care problem. Jointly funded by Seva Canada and Seva Foundation, Seva Cambodia, led by Program Manager Ratana Vann, is made up of four local personnel. In each province, Seva supports eye units in provincial government hospitals and the non-governmental Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. Seva also funds community outreach, education programs and clinical services including cataract surgery and training of local doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff.
Seva Canada primarily supports the Banteay Meanchey Eye Unit, a facility within the Government General Hospital that includes an outreach clinic and dedicated ophthalmology-operating centre. Eye Unit staff include an ophthalmologist, refractionist, and 3 ophthalmic nurses. The community ophthalmology program has 2 full-time field workers who travel to remote areas to find and screen patients as well as school teachers trained in basic eye care screening and referral.
Cataract surgery is conducted on an ongoing basis by the full time ophthalmologist residing at Banteay Meanchey. Seva Canada funds medicines and supplies and the cost of transportation for poor patients from villages throughout the province to the eye unit and from the eye unit back to their villages.