NEW YORK, March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In partnership with Instituto Damos Vision (IDV) and with support from USAID's Child Blindness Program, HelpMeSee is launching a comprehensive effort to identify and eliminate cases of pediatric cataract blindness in Peru. Over half of all blindness in Peru results from cataracts, mostly because of a shortage of necessary care. The joint project between HelpMeSee, IDV and USAID will expand both screening and care for children affected by cataract blindness.
"We are proud to be part of USAID's Child Blindness Program, especially in Peru where thousands remain needlessly blind from this condition," said Dr. Van Charles Lansingh, HelpMeSee's Medical Officer for Latin America. "Through the remarkable work of our partners at El Instituto Damos Visión we will be able to address one of Peru's most critical health issues."
Outreach and screening technologies developed by HelpMeSee will be used for the first time in Peru to assist community health agents and facilitate access to care. These include HelpMeSee Reach, a smartphone app that includes a Global Positioning and Patient Information System and integrates with Google's Android platform to improve health evaluation and screening. Dozens of community health agents and volunteers in the region of IDV will be trained in this technology and work on the ground to identify patients in need.
"USAID's Child Blindness Program (usaid.gov/childblindness) is excited to provide support to HelpMeSee and their innovative and far reaching work in Peru," said Liliana Riva, Program Manager of the USAID Child Blindness Program. "Our grant process is highly competitive with each project fully vetted for organizational competency and project effectiveness. We are thrilled HelpMeSee is joining us as a key collaborator in our global efforts to reduce avoidable blindness in children and vulnerable populations."
Though many countries in Latin America, including Peru, have increased their access to eye care in recent years, resources in many lower income areas remain low. The pilot will be led on the ground by staff members from HelpMeSee and IDV near Peru's capital of Lima. Data gathered by the pilot project will allow local medical staff to measure the backlog of those who need surgery and ensure that they receive timely attention and follow-up care. It will also be used to develop a national database of pediatric blindness cases.
Through funding from the Child Blindness Program at USAID, this program is made possible with the generous support of the American people.
About USAID & the Child Blindness Program (CBP)
Through quality, innovative programs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is preventing and treating blindness, restoring sight and providing eyeglasses to thousands of people in the poorest communities of the world. CBP features prominently in USAID's approach to eliminate blindness worldwide. Funding under this program originated through a congressional directive in 1991. Since then, the generous support of the American people has made it possible to deliver eye care to over three million children.
About Instituto Damos Visión
El Instituto Damos Visión (IDV) is a private non-profit organization that focuses its efforts on children up to 14 years old from the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of Peru. Educating for prevention is the main policy of the Institute, since in most cases, blindness or visual impairment in Peru occurs from perfectly preventable causes. IDF has a multidisciplinary team that combines strategies in ophthalmology, medical education, media fields, and management in order to motivate people to cultivate practices and attitudes to preserve their visual health.
HelpMeSee is a global campaign to end cataract blindness, the leading cause of blindness worldwide. HelpMeSee intends to make the sight-restoring surgery available to millions of poor through scaling training to the necessary number of MSICS specialists recruited from within their communities and financial support. HelpMeSee is pioneering a virtual reality surgical simulator and training program to be implemented worldwide, adapted from extensive experience in simulator-based aviation training. Since 2012, the campaign has supported over 241,000 surgeries through 242 partnerships across India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Madagascar, Togo, Sierra Leone, Peru and The Gambia.
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