Foresight has been working in the Philippines since 2013 in partnership with the Adventist Hospital Santiago City (AHSC) and Open Heart International.
Santiago City is situated in the Cagayan Valley in Northern Luzon, a rural area situated over ten hours drive north of Manila. With a large population, high levels of poverty and no comprehensive eye-care services, this region has one of the highest rates of blindness in the Philippines.
Foresight has undertaken four volunteer cataract surgery trips to AHSC to cure blindness for those unable to afford to pay for the procedure. The overall aim of the project is to build capacity in the region so that affordable eye services are available to those who need them.
- Since 2013, Foresight has been able to help restore sight to 1000 people, many of them children who have been blind since birth.
- specialised surgical instruments have been donated and local staff trained to screen patients
- all medical staff volunteer their time to undertake surgery and training
While it is vital to tackle the prevalence of cataract in the Cagayan Valley region with increased surgical capacity, it is also essential to build a sustainable service. Those with the greatest need should be able to access eye services before problems that lead to irreversible blindness develop.
The first step in establishing such a service is to implement a screening program for the regional and remote areas surrounding Santiago City.
There are many barriers preventing patients from travelling to cities to gain access to eye health care. The cost of travel, having to rely on a family member to accompany them, the cost of the service, the availability of the service and simply knowing what services are available and where to find them keep people who are blind from accessing the help they need.
This is why Foresight aims to develop a vision screening program for these regional and remote areas that will include employing, training and equipping nurses to visit areas with limited access to ophthalmic services. It will also include establishing an eye care centre in the area and the employment of a local ophthalmologist.