Dr. Chundak Tenzing (USA) on behalf of the Seva Foundation
To create a sustainable pediatric continuum of care in Guatemala to reduce the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment
Although 42% of Guatemala’s population are children, a comprehensive continuum of care (CoC) for pediatric eyecare does not currently exist in the country.
This project aims to serve socioeconomically vulnerable pre- and school-aged children and their families, by expanding training, outreach, screening, and surgery services and by introducing low vision and rehabilitation services for pediatric patients. The increased access to quality services will prevent and reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairments among children in poor, marginalized communities and will significantly expand Visualiza’s eye care delivery model to serve 50,000 children. Furthermore, the project’s emphasis on training clinical and allied providers in pediatric vision care will ensure staff have capacity and skills to sustain services.
Project Update: Required equipment has been procured and utilized, and 16 staff have completed remote training with the support of the LAICO Aravind Eye Care System. 82 teachers at public community schools were also trained to detect visual impairment and refer for earlier diagnosis and treatment of childhood eye conditions. This has increased eyecare access for children, with 14,848 children screened during the first year of the initiative. For those who required additional care, 1,959 spectacles were distributed, 181 pediatric surgeries were completed, and 16 low vision/rehabilitation aids were provided. A telemedicine system has also been developed and is in testing, which aims to provide the opportunity to conduct consultations in underserved areas that might not otherwise have access to specialized eyecare. This project has raised community awareness of the importance of eyecare and will further strengthen the capacity to address pediatric eyecare needs through continued training and education programs.