Symbiosis International

Village Vision 2017 (cataract surgery)
For almost 22 years, Symbiosis has been helping poor and marginalised people in Bangladesh overcome poverty, principally in rural areas. They do this through empowerment-based grassroots community development, centred on self-help group formation, adult literacy and peer savings (for income generation activities). The empowerment of women is a key focus. Complementary programs include health care,vocational training and human rights awareness raising activities.

In 2016, the work of Symbiosis impacted more than 41,000 people, with over 17,000 group members, around 90% of whom are women. They employ around 170 staff in Bangladesh, with half of their projects managed by women.

The work of Symbiosis in Bangladesh is carried out under the overall management and oversight of Symbiosis International, an NGO registered in Australia and based in Brisbane, Queensland.

The Village Vision 2017 project will be conducted as part of Symbiosis Primary Eye Care Service (SPECS), the aim of which is “Supporting sustainable development by reducing low vision and blindness with a focus on primary eye care, eye health education and training of skilled eye care personnel”.

Within the Symbiosis working area (central-northern Bangladesh), a location will be chosen on the basis of need ie where a community has little or no chance of accessing eye care or cataract surgery.

Symbiosis will arrange for SPECS staff and ophthalmologists from the Bangladesh National Society for the Blind (BNSB) to visit the area to provide vision screening to hundreds of patients.

Patients with the greatest need for cataract surgery will be identified and arrangements made for them to receive surgery at the BNSB eye hospital in Mymensingh.
Transport and post-operative care for patients are provided as part of the project.

UCF funded a similar Symbiosis project in November 2015 and note the expected outcomes:

  1. Screening of patients: Symbiosis will conduct vision screening for at least 200 people and will provide low cost eye care treatment as required
  2. Identifying cataract patients: Symbiosis will determine the 20 most needy patients from those identified as being blind due to bilateral cataracts
  3. Surgery provision: Symbiosis will arrange transport to and from Mymensingh and cataract surgery (utilising intra-ocular lenses) for 20 patients through the BNSB eye hospital
  4. Post-operative care and assistance: Symbiosis will provide post-operative care to the 20 patients to reduce the risk of complications
  5. Note: The total cost to restore sight is less than $100 per person.

Note: The total cost to restore sight is less than $100 per person!

UCF directors were pleased to approve this second application from Symbiosis International for $2,000

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