February 12, 2016 - HelpMeSee and the Lions Health Foundation Alibag, India have launched a partnership to end cataract blindness, the leading cause of vision loss in India’s second most populous state, Maharashtra. The partnership focuses on training in Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) and the use of surgical quality assurance systems. Lions Health Foundation Alibag has begun planning construction for a new hospital in Raigad District, the initial focus area for the joint campaign.
Five Lions Clubs have joined together in Alibag to eliminate cataract blindness in Raigad District, Maharashtra. To this end, the Lions Clubs of Alibag, Alibag-Poynad, Alibag-Mandva, Alibag-Revdanda and Lions Club Chembur Diamonds have united to form a new body - Lions Health Foundation Alibag.
At the launch of the partnership between HelpMeSee and Lions Health Foundation Alibag, HelpMeSee President & CEO Jacob Mohan Thazhathu said, "HelpMeSee is committed to excellence in training of cataract surgeons and with simulation technology. This will ensure outstanding quality of surgical care and patient services to everyone. In this 21st century we owe it to every blind and visually impaired person to actively pursue the goal of ending cataract blindness."
Lion Nitin Adhikari, Vice-Chairman, Lions Health Foundation Alibag made a pledge of $50,000 to eliminate cataract blindness in the Raigad District. Thanking Lion Adhikari, Mr. Thazhathu, applauded the commitment of Lions Health Foundations efforts in Alibag for a locally sustainable campaign.
Cataracts cause nearly two-thirds of all blindness in India, where over five million are estimated to be blind. According to Nitin Gadkari, India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister, cataracts account for more road accidents than alcohol.
HelpMeSee brings two of its key technologies to the partnership in Raigad, including the HelpMeSee Reach App for population-based patient services, and a pre-sterilized, single use, disposable surgical kit for Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS).
"Our problem today is cataract," said Ashok Mehta, former President of the International Association of Lions Clubs. "We’ve been working for the past 25 years, but we have not been able to solve the problem. I am sure with the help of HelpMeSee we’ll be able to see the light of day and bring vision to thousands of people who are needy and deserving."
Co-coordinating efforts, Lion Venkataraman Subramanian of Lions Club Chembur Diamonds said,"The campaign which we have initiated now between Lions Health Foundation Alibag and HelpMeSee is unique in every sense. It is a partnership between two international organizations that believe in removing unnecessary blindness. We will ensure that the surgery done is of international standards ? for all patients whether rich or poor, belonging to any caste or creed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have to eliminate blindness from all the districts."
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 within their communities by training tens of thousands (mostly women) to perform high quality, high volume MSICS surgery throughout the developing world. 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 237,000 surgeries through 242 partnerships across India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Madagascar, Togo, Sierra Leone, Peru and The Gambia.
About Lions Clubs International & Lions Health Foundation Alibag
Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world with over 1.4 million members in more than 46,000 clubs serving communities in more than 210 countries and geographical areas worldwide. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened local communities through hands-on service and humanitarian projects. Five Lions Clubs in Greater Mumbai joined together to form the Lions Health Foundation Alibag.