DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL: THE FIGHT TO END GLOBAL POVERTY
Statement to the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (CSocD55)
By Jacob Mohan Thazhathu, President & CEO, HelpMeSee
Tuesday February 7, 2017
Subscribing to the United Nations 2030 Agenda to combat poverty and leave no one behind, which calls for:
- Committing to help Member States to achieve this critical goal.
- Supporting the strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.
We call on member states, private, public and civil society partners to:
- Eliminate human suffering and economic loss by preventing the increased disability caused by visual impairment and blindness, mostly due to age-related cataract.
- Scale up human resources and gainful employment opportunities in delivering essential surgical care.
- Reduce time and costs needed for surgical skills training using advanced simulation technology modeled on the success in aviation training.
- Reform surgical training to focus on safety and optimal outcomes for patients.
- Eliminate the current shortage to meet the growing demand for surgical services in remote and impoverished communities.
- Establish sustainable and market based, high-quality surgical services which provide universal access to affordable eye care.
- Make available high quality, low cost consumables.
- Promote the eye care team approach to increase productivity.
Cataract blindness is a disease of the poor. In the United States blindness is the most feared disease according to an August 2016 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Ophthalmology. It is more feared that loss of a limb or even Alzheimer's. So it’s no wonder that cataract treatment is the most performed surgery in the United States, with 3.5 million surgeries completed annually in a country of 300 million.
Not so in the developing world, where an estimated 20 million poor people, the majority women, are bilaterally blinded and remain so because they lack access to affordable treatment within their communities. In some countries, there is less than 1 ophthalmologist per million people. The World Health Organization estimates over 3.5 million disability-adjusted life years would be averted per year if cataract blindness was treated. The World Bank considers cataract treatment one of the most cost-effective health interventions.
HelpMeSee’s mission is to train 30,000 cataract specialists from throughout the developing world to perform a quick (as little as 5 minutes), very low cost (less than $50) high-quality procedure which cures cataract blindness and restores visual acuity lost to cataract disease. By doing so, this will create highly skilled jobs, reduce poverty and restore dignity for millions of people.
HelpMeSee is able to scale training through the use of high-fidelity simulation technology and courseware used in commercial aviation training, where standardized training delivers unparalleled safety and efficiency.
Today, the poor cataract blind, their families, and their communities are calling on the United Nations Commission for Social Development, governments, civil service organizations, NGOs, and the private sector to adopt this strategy of increasing access to affordable treatment by training thousands of cataract specialists to end cataract blindness worldwide. HelpMeSee’s strategy of training specialists to perform a single low-cost procedure can help lift millions of people out of poverty and hopelessness, and reduce worldwide blindness from all causes by one half.
Watch HelpMeSee present its statement to the 55th Commission for Social Development. To review a recording of the full session, please visit the UN's website at http://webtv.un.org/