The Certified Ophthalmic Paramedical Program (COP)

India is home to approximately one-third of the world’s 39 million blind people. The largest barrier to the majority of these 13 million blind individuals regaining their sight is the shortage of trained eye care personnel to screen and treat them. To address this problem, our partners at SCEH in New Delhi, India have developed the innovative COP program. This program will train and educate mid-level medical personnel who can perform many of the same functions as an ophthalmologist, but have the advantages of a shorter training period and lower entry level education qualifications. However, there is something very unique about the mid-level training program at SCEH — it is made up almost entirely of young women from the surrounding rural areas. This program will train these young women to fulfill a variety roles as eye care personnel; including ophthalmic nursing assistants, vision technicians, medical records and registration, or patient counseling — in just 2 years of school. These positions will reduce the strain on higher-level personnel, like ophthalmologists, so that they can focus on sight-restoring procedures and surgeries. The COP program presents truly empowering opportunities to these young women that would otherwise not be available to them; the opportunity to be exposed to a new environment in urban Delhi outside rural villages, it teaches communication and life skills, and presents them with a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth. CBI’s role in this program is to provide stipends for the students. The stipends of $342 per year per student reduce the strain on their families and allow them to focus on their studies. For less than a dollar per day these living stipends give these young women the economic independence to fully pursue their education. Proposed Outcomes:

  • Average 37,500 surgeries per year at SCEH by 2020
  • Reduce the shortage of professionally trained ophthalmic personnel
  • Increase patient interactions in rural areas
  • Decrease gender inequality
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