At a glance
The Caribbean region is located to the north of South America and comprises of more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. Sightsavers support focuses mainly on the countries of Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and St Lucia – a combined population of approximately 14 million. The most prevalent causes of blindness in the Caribbean are non-operated cataract and glaucoma, followed by diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected refractive errors.
Sightsavers in the Caribbean
We have been working in the Caribbean since the mid 1950s. In 1967 we helped to establish our partner organisation the Caribbean Council for the Blind (CCB), which coordinates our work in this diverse and challenging region.
All our work in the Caribbean is carried out with CCB, who work in partnership with local organisations and government institutions in each country to support provision of eye health, rehabilitation and education services. CCB strongly advocate for the rights of people who are blind and visually impaired in the region.
Delivering Vision 2020
With our partners we recently launched a five-year project that will significantly contribute to achieving the goals of Vision2020, the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, in the Caribbean. The project is funded by the European Union and aims to reduce the prevalence of avoidable blindness through capacity building in Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and the Caribbean region.
From 2010 with our partners we will support the training of 10 ophthalmologists, 15 optometrists, 23 refractionists, 45 low vision councillors, 1,240 health care workers, 21 spectacle lab personnel and 10 maintenance personnel. We are also developing or refurbishing 13 vision centres, 7 operating theatres and 5 spectacle labs.
Research activities will be conducted as part of the five-year project, including a number of Rapid Assessments of Avoidable Blindness (RAABs) which will determine the rates of blindness in the project countries. Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) studies and clinic-based surveys will also be undertaken to inform future prevention and treatment practices.
To support our work we will also develop a wide range of communications that aim to raise awareness of eye health problems and the treatments available. These will be adapted to suit each national context and spread across TV, radio, newspapers, and by our health care workers, to ensure these important messages reach as many people as possible.
Learning from each other
Sightsavers, in collaboration with the Caribbean Council for the Blind, Eye Care Guyana and PAHO/WHO and with support from the European Commission, hosted a two day meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.
Delivering Vision2020 in the Caribbean
Sightsavers and our partners have begun work on a five-year project that will significantly contribute to achieving the goals of Vision2020: the Right to Sight, the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, in the Caribbean.
Event launches Caribbean V2020 initiatives
Sightsavers and our partners recently held an opening ceremony to celebrate the launches of Delivering V2020 in the Caribbean and an Optometry Degree programme.
Baroness Floella Benjamin speaks in the Caribbean
Sightsavers partner, the Caribbean Council for the Blind/Eye Care Caribbean (CCB), held its General Meeting in Trinidad earlier this year.
The first of its kind
The University of Guyana recently launched a Bachelor of Science Degree course in Optometry, marking a real breakthrough in the development of eye health professionals in the region.
James Alves – the life of a pioneer
James Alves Awards are given to individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of visually impaired people, but who was the legendary figure who inspired the award scheme? Click here to read the story of a true pioneer...
Speaking to Kerryann Ifill
Kerryann is the first female we supported through our education work in the Caribbean...
A few words with Arvel Grant
Executive Director of our partner in the Caribbean tells us why being able to restore sight has a very personal meaning.