Eye care services supported by Sightavers have been recommenced in the district hospitals under the Netra Vasant Programme. Adhering to the government guidelines, outreach camps are still halted, but continuous efforts are being made to restart screening services in Primary Healthcare Centres of Bihar. Cataract surgical services in partner hospitals also have been resumed following all GOI directives and guidelines in response to Covid-19.
Eye care services supported by Sightsavers have been resumed in all 23 vision centres embedded in 23 Urban Primary Health Centres of Patna. With the re-opening of services, Sightsavers has ensured the integration of eye screening data in the government HMIS. Thus, the urban health system of Patna now includes eye OPD data along with other health care services being provided in the UPHCs.
Sightsavers’ Partners are providing teleophthalmology services through using telephone and android phone. Communities have received materials such as masks, sanitisers for the prevention of the Covid-19 infections.
Sightsavers’ partners in Madhya Pradesh developed guidelines and protocols for their hospitals. All the workstations at the hospital were modified to ensure safety of the patients and service providers based on the guidelines. Staff at the hospitals were provided with training and safety skills to ensure prevention from COVID 19. Cataract surgeries have been resumed from June 2020 in the base hospitals with all precautions and protocols. Sightsavers’ partner hospitals provided PPE to all the staff members who are going house to house for screening and identification of cataract as all the outreach camps are on hold till further instructions form Government.
The eye care practice set up in the Mahatma Gandhi Eye Hospital was changed in adherence to COVID regulations. The Ophthalmologists on PPE restricted their patient appointment by 50% at OPD and at OT. With such curtailments from Sightsavers’ partner base hospital, the OPD elective patients along with screened patients from the villages, 68 number sight restoration surgeries were carried out in June out of which 70% were female beneficiaries.
Amid the lockdown, Sightsavers and Kalinga eye hospital’s management planned to expedite the vision centre cataract referral system (VCRS) & started Door to Door Survey for Cataract patients by the community health workers posted in the Vision centres. VCRS refers to bring cataract patient identified in Vision centre to base hospital for operation and leave them again in VC after surgery. Door to Door survey is a process screening for cataract patients at their doorstep by the community health worker posted in vision centre & then refer them to vision centres or directly to base hospitals for cataract surgery.
Sightsavers’ partners Urmul Khejari and CUTS in Rajasthan have started Door to Door (D2D) screening instead of outreach camps from June 2020 onwards. D2D teams goes to pre-identified locations of a village designated to particular team. One team consist of two persons – Optometrist and Camp organiser/Coordinator. Team do screening, Refraction, provide glasses and medicine if required. They also refer patients who require surgeries to base hospital.
Sightsavers’ Hospital partner Sri Jagdamba in Rajasthan has reopened the Vision Centres from first week of June where the daily average OPD is 2-3 persons. The hospital partner is undertaking 5-6 surgeries in a day.
Sightsavers entered into partnership with SCB for Urban Eye Health Programme in the slums of Kanpur, Prayagraj and Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh.
Taking all protocols and safety measures, Sightsavers’ supported Vision Centres in Uttar Pradesh have restarted their services amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The centres are providing services like screening, refraction, prescribing and dispensing spectacles and cataract referrals to secondary hospital.
Door to door refractions and spectacle dispensing: Since the schools remain closed due to COVID-19, door to door refractions and spectacle dispensing is being conducted by Sightsavers in Kasganj to reach out to the maximum number of children who were already screened before lockdown and were accumulated as backlog. Staff members have been provided with necessary safety gears to ensure the safety of both staff and children.
Sightsavers trained the Tea garden volunteers from Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar district on primary eye screening after which they started door to door screening to reach out the needy people in the tea garden areas.
A webinar on “Post COVID do’s and don’ts of Eye screening in schools” was organised by Sightsavers by a renowned speaker Asim Sil, Medical Director, Vivekananda Mission Asram Netra Niramay Niketan (VMANNN), West Bengal where 70 participants belonging to different groups like project coordinators, optometrists, vision technicians, health educators and Sightsavers staff across Sightsavers School eye health implementation states attended the webinar.
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Sightsavers in association with Samerth, Health and Social Welfare department, Smart City Raipur and We the People provided logistic support to the shelter homes in Raipur, where around 200 migrant workers (including persons with disabilities) took shelter.
DPO members supported by Sightsavers in Balodabazar assisted around 530 disabled persons to access food and essentials amidst the lockdown. More than 400 persons with disabilities were able to receive food and essentials because of the continuous efforts being made by the DPO members.
Sightsavers conducted an online competition on “The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of persons with disabilities and development of road map for future”. The persons with disabilities shared their views through 5 to 6 minutes speech on the same topic in audio format for persons with visual impairment and in text format for the hearing impaired and other categories of disabilities.
Sightsavers conducted webinars on “Strategy for effective implementation of provisions under RPD Act 2016 in Jharkhand” and “Role of DPO leaders in effective implementation of RPD Act in the state of Jharkhand”.
The Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) supported by Sightsavers in Jabalpur are engaged in providing support to the severely disabled persons. They are supplying food materials and other required household items. DPOs have also taken the responsibility to telephonically call persons with disabilities and provide required information regarding the preventive measures on COVID-19.
A survey was conducted by Sightsavers in Madhya Pradesh to understand the experiences of persons with disabilities during COVID-19 about level of awareness, access to health, livelihood, and essential needs/services. This survey was undertaken with the support of the partner and DPO in Hoshangabad & Jabalpur.
DPO members supported by Sightsavers in Odisha took the lead in sensitising the community members on the preventive aspects of COVID-19 infections like personal hygiene, regular use of mask and maintaining social distance and others. They also helped persons with disabilities to access the emergency support of Government.
Impact of lockdown on Women with Disabilities: Sightsavers in collaboration with Rising Flame has undertaken a short-term project to understand the situation of women with disabilities during COVID lockdown. As part of the data collection, 5 Women with Disabilities were identified from Gajapati, Ganjam and Rayagada.
Amidst the rising COVID-19 cases in Rajasthan, the DPO members supported by Sightsavers have been advocating with their respective district administration to take special care for persons with disabilities.
In Chittaurgarh, Sightsavers in association with CUTS supported the persons with disabilities in making cotton masks for the prevention of Covid-19 infections.
Sightsavers in association with YVDKSS, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of Sultanpur, conducted an online training and counselling session for 6,000 persons with disabilities. The aim was to reach out to persons with disabilities to ensure mental wellness, livelihood opportunities and basic education.
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Bihar initiated a Tele Education Model for Children with visual impairment for assisting them in their regular learning process using the available resources. An online pedagogy approach was adopted which focused on teaching CWVIs through one to one telephonic calls or group calls for children with visual impairment of the same class. The success of this intervention led to the concept of SANKALP (Special Approach for Need Based Knowledge and Learning Programme), a tele education model for CWSN, was submitted to Bihar Education Project Council for scaling up the model in pan Bihar. SANKALP is now being implemented across all 38 districts of Bihar.
Sightsavers organised a series of online training programme for children with visual impairment. A team of resource teachers trained by Sightsavers engaged in providing online teaching to children with visual impairment through the use of ICT devices.
Sightsavers’ partners in Madhya Pradesh are reaching out to Children with Visual Impairment telephonically and updating them with the information of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Sightsavers initiated advocacy for capacity building of Children with Visual Impairment in plus curriculum skill and providing them with e-learning classes.
Sightsavers in association with SMSA conducted a Self Defence training for 100 girls out of which 32 Children with Visual Impairment and 68 Hearing Impaired girls underwent through seven days of training in Jaipur.
Sightsavers in association with SMSA conducted a two-day refresher training for 28 Children with Visual Impairment was conducted in Jhalawar.
Sightsavers has raised the issue with the Chief Minister of Rajasthan to develop mechanism of reaching out to persons with visual impairment with vital information on corona, prevention aspects and safety guidelines amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Amid the pandemic, Sightsavers in West Bengal has started a Tele Education model for Children with Visual Impairment through which nearly 60 children have been benefitted.