India: Standard Chartered Bank, India and Seva Foundation have partnered to create critical access to eye care for four million people in underserved communities in India through a new initiative – Envision. The two organisations along with partner hospitals will establish 65 new vision centres across nine States in India – Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal.
Under Envision, vision centres will be established in areas that do not have access to eye care, extending the country’s ability to deliver universal eye health coverage. These newvision centres will be set up by 15 leading eye care providers by December 2024, and will collectively provide 400,000 eye exams, 67,000 glasses, and conduct 16,000 eye surgeries.
Vision centres are local, permanent establishments that provide access to eye care services to underserved communities, including women and children. They are equipped to meet 80 per cent of all eye care needs and can refer patients to nearby hospitals for complex cases. The staff at these centres is recruited and trained locally, thereby generating employment opportunities.
Karuna Bhatia, Head – Sustainability, India, Standard Chartered Bank said, “With our collaboration with Seva Foundation we endeavour to provide critical eye care to people who would not have easy access and not be able to afford this treatment. Through Envision, we will establish infrastructure and systems to help us in realising our vision under the Bank’s ‘Seeing is Believing’ initiative of tackling avoidable blindness and making eye health facilities accessible to more communities across the country. So far under our Seeing is Believing programme, the Bank has reached 14 million people in India, conducted 2.58 million cataract surgeries through our existing network of 265 vision centres across 22 States.”
Kuldeep Singh, Programs Manager for India & Bangladesh at Seva Foundation said, “This initiative highlights the Seva Foundation’s commitment to build and strengthen the primary care delivery model at grassroots level in the country. India has an estimated 270 million people with vision loss and 80 per cent of them can be treated at primary eye care vision centres. Poor eye health imposes a non-trivial recurring cost to the Indian economy equivalent to 0.57 per cent of GDP (INR 1,158 billion), a substantial constraint on the country’s growth aspirations.”