What Sightsavers Learned About Improving Eye Care and the Rights of the Disabled in Underdeveloped Countries
Sightsavers is an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the sight of people who reside in countries where proper eye services are not available. They also work to help protect the rights of the disabled. A recent blog posted on their website highlighted what their team learned after completing their first inclusive health project in Bhopal, India. This project allowed the team at Sightsavers to see how they could improve the eye health services in this region while also protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
Increasing awareness about the needs people have in areas without proper health services was at the top of what they learned needed to be done. Along with awareness of need came an understanding and commitment to total inclusion with all partners. The team at Sightsavers believe this could be accomplished through training programs designed to change attitudes toward people with disabilities and gender equality. They also found a need to improve the accessibility of existing health facilities for people who have impairments that are either physical or sensory. This is where the partnerships with fundraising organizations needs to be at a level where everyone is committed to providing the best quality of care for these communities.
The team at Sightsavers also believed a greater focus needed to be placed on training individuals with disabilities so that they might play a more involved role within their communities. This includes erasing the stigmas and stereotypes associated with these individuals, which often hampers them from attaining the involvement and leadership they deserve. An inclusive project such as the one Sightsavers undertook in Bhopal, requires a large amount of time, determination and courage. Changing the long standing views some countries have about disabilities does not happen overnight. The review this organization made after its first project helped them see how to proceed with future inclusive programs.