Sightsavers India, as part of its eye health strategy, is working extensively to activate grassroots level health workers like accredited social health activists, rural medical practitioners (RMPs) and Anganwadi workers, and engage them in basic identification and referral of patients requiring eye health services. By doing so, the rural eye health (REH) programme of Sightsavers India aims to embed eye health into wider health programmes under the national health mission.
This intervention is important in making the REH programme sustainable so the community can be motivated to access eye health services by utilising services of grassroots level health workers. The Sundarbans eye health service strengthening project under REH, supported by Standard Chartered Bank’s Seeing is Believing initiative, has a strong component of working closely with RMPs considering their huge presence across the geographic area, and the inaccessibility of the terrain and unavailability of qualified service providers.
It needs to be assessed whether such training and interventions are actually translating into increased footfall at the vision centres and base hospitals through referrals.