Greener OutREACH in Transforming Lives

Orbis, in partnership with Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital (SGLEH) is implementing REACH project (Refractive Errors Among Children) in four blocks of Siliguri subdivision, Darjeeling district, West Bengal to address the issue of lack of refractive error services in the district.

Orbis, in partnership with Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital (SGLEH) is implementing REACH project (Refractive Errors Among Children) in four blocks of Siliguri subdivision, Darjeeling district, West Bengal to address the issue of lack of refractive error services in the district.

Going beyond eye screenings, we also plan to improve referral compliance by strengthening existing Green Vision Centers (GVCs) and making eye care services more accessible. The project team under the initiative will undertake both school and door-to-door screening activities to identify and offer treatment to school-aged children in the catchment area of two GVCs. The door-to-door strategy is particularly helpful to provide eye care access to out-of-school children and address the challenges posed by pandemic, such as the closure of schools or high percentage of absenteeism. Children identified with visual problems, other ocular complaints, those prescribed spectacles, or already wearing spectacles are being identified and subsequently detailed eye check-ups are done by optometrist at the GVCs. While children identified with refractive error are prescribed with spectacles, those requiring further treatment or surgery are referred to the base hospital. All data will be captured in REACHSoft and door-to-door screening app.

Meet the Gvc Team

The initiative is being led by team at Green Vision Centers in Bagdogra and Shibmandir. While the GVCs were providing eye care services since the last two years, there was no outreach team to conduct door to door/ school screenings and create awareness among community. There was a need to strengthen the connect with community, to increase patient footfall, and ensure early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions. The REACH project engaged local community health workers, Niharika Paul and Suman Majumdar, with the Optometrist Koyel Jana from Bagdogra and the Vision Technician Preetika Ghatani from Shibmandir. Niharika Paul and Suman Majumdar are both from Shibmandir. Coming from humble backgrounds, both, Niharika and Suman have a deep understanding of local culture, norms and demographics, helping the team to establish trust, create an open environment for discussion, and facilitate information sharing on eye health issues.

A Peep Into the Day of Niharika and Suman

Kuldeep, Niharika and Suman during their daily morning meet

The project manager, Kuldeep Sharma conducts a daily meeting to synchronize field activities and mitigating some persistent challenges. Issues like how to approach a family during door-to-door visit, how to request community members for a free eye screening session, how to identify basic eye ailments and significance of engaging elderly in screening process are being discussed at length. Many a times, Kuldeep is joined by Koyel who shares her expertise on how to use the illustrations in handbook used by health workers to create awareness of eye diseases.

Kick off to another start

After the daily morning meeting, Niharika and Suman are ready to set off on their community visit on the electric scooter provided under the project. The e-bikes further adds on the project vision of reducing carbon footprint.

In the community, these community health workers start approaching every household for eye screening. Using handy tools and following COVID safety protocols, the workers ensure that early diagnosis and treatment is a possibility for every child. Every now and then, the health workers first seek permission from the Gram Pradhan to conduct screenings in their village.

Door to Door eye screening

Children and elderly identified with an eye ailment are immediately referred to the GVC for secondary evaluation.

In the evening, Niharika and Suman feeds in the details of individuals screened, and details of those referred with their respective eye conditions into the Orbis door-to-door mobile application.

Niharika and Suman feeding the data in D2D app, along with Koyel

For the last two years, COVD-19 had restricted Sanjita Sarkar, a 13-year-old girl to the boundaries of her home. A major part of her day would go in attending online classes, straining her eyes and receiving headaches.

Niharika and Suman feeding the data in D2D app, along with Koyel

With meagre earnings, her father, Sushil didn’t consider eye consultation/ treatment as a financially viable option. During one of the door-to-door visits, Sanjita’s vision was screened and was referred to secondary evaluation at the nearest GVC in Shibmandir.

Sanjita was diagnosed with high myopia after comprehensive refraction by Vision Technician Pretika. She received her free pair of spectacles from the center.

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