DRAKENSBERG, South Africa, July 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the one millionth patient recently received an eye exam and the eye care they need thanks to an innovative programme initiative of partners; the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE), Standard Chartered Bank, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and Optometry Giving Sight. The announcement of the milestone was heard last night by Department of Health representatives and local non-government organisations attending a conference in Drakensberg.
The Giving Sight to KwaZulu-Natal programme is a visionary effort and example of the power of public-private partnerships. The target of reaching one million patients in KZN started in July 2007 to provide accessible eye care services to communities throughout the province using the existing public health system. The ultimate goal is already achieved - the programme now paves the way for ongoing eye care services in the public health system that will serve millions more long after the initial programme has concluded.
MEC of Health in KZN, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, was present for the announcement. "This is another great achievement for all South Africans," he said. "If, in KZN, we can deliver eye care services to those most in need then surely we can also provide this service in other provinces." He added, "Without an eye examination and the right treatment or correction, individuals and their families are more likely to fall out of employment or education. The obvious cost is not just to the family, but further, to the community where lack of education and employment then creates the downward spiral to economic instability. The Department of Health is proud of the partnership with ICEE, Standard Chartered Bank and Optometry Giving Sight and the achievements so far, and ready to continue this work to bring eye care services to KZN".
Delivering the news was Global Programme Director for ICEE, Professor Kovin Naidoo, who said, "The programme began with an idea that if we could dramatically expand eye care access in KZN we would have a sustainable model that could be rolled out across Africa, wherever there is a health care system in operation. As we developed the programme, we knew we would have to up-scale the infrastructure of the system and up-skill the existing human resources to allow for expansion. I'm pleased to announce that today, KZN has 127 eye clinics in public facilities, 55 sites have more equipment, and Primary Health Care Nurses, Ophthalmic Nurses and Optometrists have been employed or trained to take on the new demand for services."
He concluded, "This is more than just a milestone for eye care, it is a pathway for all who aspire to development of new health care services in existing systems throughout Africa. If we can do this in KZN, we can do it elsewhere, but only with the right support of government and health care systems and partners like our friends at Standard Chartered Bank and Optometry Giving Sight."
"The achievement of such a fantastic milestone will be celebrated by eye care professionals throughout the world," said Clive Miller, CEO of Optometry Giving Sight. "This programme is a perfect example of how government and non-government organisations can partner together to develop and implement sustainable vision care outcomes for people in need. I know that I speak on behalf of our donors and sponsors throughout the world when I say; Optometry Giving Sight is proud to have had the opportunity to be a funding partner for this project."
Standard Chartered Bank Head of Corporate Affairs for South Africa, Lauren Callie, has witnessed the growth and progress of this project since attending the launch on World Sight Day in 2007. "Giving Sight to KZN is a sustainable program which has established a robust structure to deliver eye care benefits to individuals across KZN for many years to come," she said. "Standard Chartered proudly sponsored the 'Giving Sight to KZN' partner programme via our 'Seeing is Believing' fund - the Bank's global initiative to tackle avoidable blindness. We are delighted to celebrate this significant milestone in achieving our original target to bring eye care services to one million individuals across KZN."
She added, "The successful outcomes of this project would not have been achieved without the collaborative effort and determination of all the partners involved. Together we have made a difference in the lives of individuals, reiterating Standard Chartered's brand promise of being 'Here for good.'"
In addition the programme has generated further sustainable outcomes:
940 - Nurses based at clinics have received basic equipment and training to provide primary eye care services
49 - Primary Health Care Nurse Educators have attended primary eye care training
30 - Optometrists employed by the province (increased from 14)
127 - Eye clinic sites where optometry services are now available in the province (49 at the start of the project)
22 - Optometrists attended continuous professional development course
38 - Ophthalmic nurses received equipment
17 - Optometry clinics supplied with equipment
There are a million stories where an eye exam has been life changing. Watch Chantal, Phindile and Bright's story here: http://www.icee.org/videos/index.asp
For more information please contact:
Cellular: + 27 782 846 814
Images: Professor Naidoo at RK Khan Hospital Durban and Optometrist, Fatima Hoosen also in Durban available at: https://www.yousendit.com/download/MFo3TmZZeDNLVld4dnc9PQ
SOURCE International Centre for Eyecare Education