Because OWSP does not directly implement programs, administrative expenses are minimal, and nearly all money raised is devoted to the direct provision of medical and surgical eye services.
1. Supporting and supplementing ongoing programs of existing eye care organizations, and helping to fund the WHO/NGO’s recent Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness.
2. Purchasing and distributing surgical equipment (portable surgery suites, operating microscopes, etc.) and medical supplies (intraocular lenses, disposables, etc.)
3. Training and education of local professional and ancillary staff
4. Identification and support of effective, new eye care delivery programs
5. Addressing the problem of childhood blindness prevention and treatment
6. Creating and sustaining a permanent global resource center for coordinating the most efficient use of funds.
As stated above, all money raised is directly applied toward programs that provide medical and surgical eye services. OWSP also supports the following specific strategies for the achievement of sustainable programs (as summarized by Bjorn Thylefors, former head of the Prevention of Blindness Programme of the WHO).
1. Obtain baseline data on blindness and its causes in countries where this is still needed for program planning.
2. Establish and maintain blindness prevention as a priority issue.
3. Develop eye care as part of primary health care.
4. Increase public awareness and mobilize more community support for eye care and blindness prevention schemes.
5. Create a manpower development situation which makes full use of available resources.
6. Monitor and evaluate all national programs.
OWSP especially agrees with Dr. Thylefors that the financing of health services is a field where new and innovative approaches are particularly needed, and it is likely to become the most critical issue for sustainable strategies and programs in the foreseeable future.
Decisions on disbursement of funds will be made by OWSP’s Program Funding Advisory Council, which is being composed of world experts in health care delivery and ophthalmology. This council will be advised by representatives of most of the major non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) involved in world eye care. This council will work closely with the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to review all submitted proposals for program funding and make recommendations to the OWSP Board of Directors for approval of funding.
After approval by the OWSP Board, funds will be distributed to the NGO requesting the grant on an annual basis; for example, a 4 year grant will be distributed in quarters at the beginning of each of four 12-month periods. The grantee NGO must agree to make all requested reports to OWSP, the granting agency. Extraordinary efforts are being made to ensure the most effective and appropriate use of funds.
Program Funding Paramaters
Requests for funding will be solicited from the international ophthalmology community. Criteria for these grants are being developed and will encourage cooperation with the local governments and authorities to help them develop the capacity and political will to carry out sustainable programs.
Preliminary criteria (listed below) are being developed and are subject to revision by the Program Funding Advisory Council. Final parameters will depend to a large extent on the availability of funding.
1. Programs to be funded will address both relief and developmental assistance, and an effort will be made to incorporate volunteers into the more established global infrastructure of the larger organizations.
2. The project(s) should be planned and executed in agreement with the Ministry of Health in the country concerned.
3. Whenever possible, priority may be given to those most in need, i.e., the worst areas affected in a country or region.
4. The local community should be involved, whenever possible, to generate long-term support for the project(s).
5. National health personnel should be optimally involved, even if the project may be executed partly by expatriate staff.
6. The project(s) should be based on a low-cost approach, considering local circumstances.
7. Both research and field projects should aim for the development and utilization of appropriate technology for blindness prevention, considering local needs and resources.
8. Priority will be given to projects whose overall objectives are the promotion of self-reliance and long-term sustainability.
9. Support will be available to encourage the training of local cataract surgeons, including support for the development and strengthening of eye health manpower development programs within developing countries such as the Ophthalmic Clinical Officer Training Programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Tanzania.
10. Regular accounting procedures will be applied, as agreed beforehand between the OWSP Council and the executing agency. This will also, whenever appropriate, refer to evaluation of projects in terms of results achieved and cost effectiveness.