Child Blindness Program: Grantee Site Visits
CAMRIS’s Mary Kelly with representatives from the Child Sight Foundation at the CSF National Dissemination Meeting.
CAMRIS International, as part of the Partners for Global Research and Development (PGRD) joint venture, conducted site visits to grantees of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Child Blindness Program (CBP). The PGRD-implemented CBP is a five-year program that provides grants to U.S. - and non-U.S.-based organizations to expand the delivery of quality eye care services to children and vulnerable populations. During the trip, CAMRIS/CBP Grants Specialist Mary Kelly visited four CBP grantees in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
This scope of the on-site visits was both programmatic and financial in nature. The main objectives of each site visit included:
- Reviewing milestones and program deliverables outlined in the grant against the approved workplan, budgets, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan, and any other relevant program materials.
- Documenting challenges faced by the grantee and any mitigating measures taken to address the issue(s).
- Reviewing human resource, financial management, and procurement systems.
In Bangladesh, Ms. Kelly visited Sightsavers Bangladesh, which implements “Reaching the Unreachable with Pediatric Eye Care Services,” a CBP-funded activity that works to increase the availability of pediatric eye care in six rural villages of Bangladesh by training teachers and government health workers to identify and refer children with eye problems. Sightsavers staff gave presentations on the overall program work and on data collection, databased management, and reporting. Ms. Kelly was impressed with the management systems in place at Sightsavers and the ability of the team to achieve, and in many cases, exceed its targets. The program screened 170,216 children for eye diseases, refractive error, and other eye conditions, and referred 5,213 of these children for services. Sightsavers also trained over 2,330 service provides to detect and/or treat visual impairment.
Two Children who received glasses through the CSF Program, “Eye Care for Disabled Children in Rural Bangladesh.”
In addition to checking on the progress of the CBP activity, Ms. Kelly provided a 90-minute training and capacity building session for Sightsavers on U.S. Government (USG) rules and regulations.
While in Bangladesh, Ms. Kelly also visited Child Sight Foundation (CSF) Bangladesh, which implemented the following activities: “Eye Care for Disabled Children in Rural Bangladesh” and “Increasing Quality Eye Care Services for Children in 3 Coastal Districts of Bangladesh.” The former CBP-funded project established a disabilities therapy center and has retraced a cohort of 1,244 children with cerebral palsy, providing eye glasses and other devices to those in need, and the latter CBP-funded project has screened over 20,000 children in rural districts in Bangladesh.
Wheel chairs ready for distribution at “Shishu Shorgo” Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Center.
Ms. Kelly visited CSF’s “Shishu Shorgo” (Children’s Heaven) Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Center, established as part of the CBP-funded project, and participated in the center’s distribution of free eyeglasses and wheelchairs.
Finally, Ms. Kelly was honored to be a special guest in CSF’s national dissemination meeting, where CSF presented the results of the study on the children with cerebral palsy cohort and concluded with a round table on inclusion issues.
Ms. Kelly’s third stop on her trip was the Philippines, where she visited Resources for the Blind Inc. (RBI), which is implementing the following CBP-funded activity: “Ensuring the Continuum of Care for Children with Visual Impairment,” which seeks to provide a continuum of care for 2,500 children in 650 inclusive education programs in the country by creating linkages between schools, ophthalmologists, optometrists, and therapists. Through the linkages, the project provides proper assessment of each child by an ophthalmologist, coordinates needed treatments, and provides the low vision therapy or devices required for children in need. Ms. Kelly toured RBI’s facilities, which include a therapy center for children, a production studio for producing online audio content for the visually impaired and materials in braille. She met with the team to review the program achievements and accomplishments and conducted a review of RBIs financial and management systems and provided the grantee with a training session on program management and USG rules and regulations.
While in Manila, Ms. Kelly also visited the Special Education (SPED) program at Angeles City Elementary School. The SPED class has 13 low vision students who receive individualized or supplemental instruction from special education teachers, and the program provides appropriate assistive devices for the children. The students also have regular vision assessments there, and the program provides training to teachers and parents on low vision issues. Ms. Kelly also visited a newly established low vision center at Tarlac Provincial Hospital.
The final stop on the trip was a visit to Hellen Keller International (HKI) in Indonesia. HKI Indonesia implements “Using a Telemedicine Approach to Address the Growing Burden of Retinopathy of Prematurity in Jakarta,” a CBP-funded activity that partners with Indonesia’s Department of Health and a tertiary hospital to train hospital staff on a telemedicine project for the treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that occurs in premature babies that could lead to blindness. During the visit, Ms. Kelly reviewed the program and its processes and procedures and met with USAID Office of Health program staff.
Ms. Kelly not only was able to check on the progress of activities and provide CBP grantees with training during her trip, but also was able to participate in the distribution of services, see eye therapy classes in session, and hear from parents on how CBP-funded services have improved the eye health of their children. It was a rewarding experience for her to see firsthand what has been made possible by the grants.