The Asian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness
The Foundation was formed in 1981 and since then it has raised funds to enable it to carry out prevention of blindness work in many Asian countries. Although the bulk of its work has been conducted in China, as a result of the express wishes of certain donors, projects have been successfully completed in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. We are currently investigating possible projects in Laos, Tibet and Xinjiang.
Our donors have come mainly from the corporate sector, but we are hoping to expand the donor base by offering annual and life memberships, particularly to Hong Kong residents. The effectiveness of the Foundation in carrying out its work depends largely on its ability to raise funds, but also on the many volunteers, including ophthalmologists, who help develop the projects.
We have developed partnerships in the region which have proved to be most fruitful. Among these are partnerships with the Hong Kong Society for the Blind, the China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF), the Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM), Sight Savers International (SSI), Helen Keller International (HKI) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI). In some cases our donations are overseen by these reputable bodies, and in others we carefully monitor progress ourselves.
We have tended to support projects involving cataract surgery and intraocular lens transplants, but we have also been involved in dietary projects particularly in impoverished areas.
The numbers of the blind needing cataract surgery in the Asian region is many millions, with numbers increasing year by year, partly as a result of the generally improved health care in much of the region, and therefore the increased longevity of the population (the occurrence of cataracts increases, inter alia, with age).
In 1995, the Foundation in conjunction with the Hong Kong Society for the Blind, introduced Mobile Eye Treatment Centres (METCs) as a means of providing cataract surgery to the more remote areas of China. So far, 19 METCs have been built and donated to provinces in China. Our partnership with CDPF has proved to be particularly valuable in this context, as the CDPF helps identify poor cataract patients, prescreen them and arrange appointments for those requiring surgery, with the METC moving from location to location as and when required.
Volunteer ophthalmologists often travel with METCs to give training in the latest techniques to county-based doctors and nurses in China. Annual reviews of progress are undertaken under the auspices of the Foundation so that any problem may be identified and suitable solutions discussed and agreed.
We are in discussion with a number of charitable funds which have expressed interest in the work of the Foundation with a view to initiating suitable prevention of blindness projects in the region. However, financial support from the community generally would greatly enhance the ability of the Foundation to continue with its prevention of blindness work. With your support even more can be achieved.