2013 has been one of the most eventful years in Sightsavers’ 48 year journey in India so far. While we are proud to have a rich and solid history behind us, we have always been an organisation driven by dynamism and a forward-looking approach to meet the challenges of the future. In this respect, the most important development of the year has been the development of a brand new strategy to guide our work over the next five years.
The new strategy denotes a marked shift from a ‘service delivery’ to a ‘systems strengthening’ approach. Instead of providing solutions at an individual or local level, our interventions will be increasingly focussed on bridging the gaps in the existing machinery and building sustainable systems to take on eye health and disability-related challenges of the coming era.
In addition to the roll-out of the new strategy, Sightsavers’ Kishanganj project was also a major success in demonstrating the effectiveness of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. Not only did the Government of Bihar pass an order to appoint a full-time ophthalmologist at the district hospital in Kishanganj, it also issued consent to scale up the project in seven neighbouring districts. Kishanganj is currently the highest performing district in the state in terms of sight-restoring surgeries.
Sightsavers also initiated an exciting eye health project in the Sunderbans, as well as comprehensive eye care projects in select rural areas and urban slums of Madhya Pradesh. On the advocacy front, Sightsavers’ continued efforts in lobbying with public and private sector banks to promote accessible banking yielded strong results, with over 7000 accessible ATMs being installed across the country. Our digital campaign on World Sight Day was another major success that significantly increased our presence on social media platforms.
Looking ahead towards the future, I am confident that Sightsavers’ new strategy will help redefine the way public health care and disability programmes are executed in India. I am also hopeful that our efforts in becoming a more innovation-driven organisation will propel our impact even further in the coming years. The future certainly holds exciting prospects for us.
I wish to thank all our colleagues and partners for their diligent and unflinching hard work, and the India Board for its unwavering support. Last but not least, I wish to thank all our supporters for their continued belief in us. Together, we will continue to impact lives and assist the long-term development of our country.