<b>LCIF SIGHT INITIATIVE</b> <b>Fighting Blindness Through Training</b> SightFirst is fighting blindness by shining a light on training. The Korat Public Institute of Public Health Ophthalmology at Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Regional Hospital in Thailand is a leading example of the impact training eye care specialists has on blindness prevention. The program at Korat attracts students from all over Asia. The students receive comprehensive training in eye care service and delivery. Many come from areas with minimal eye health services and with vast eye health needs. “I decided to learn about refractive error and low vision in this program because it affects many people in my country and around the world,” said Wauta Laka of Cambodia, a recent graduate of the Korat program. The training of eye care professionals has always been and remains a central component to SightFirst’s fight against blindness. To date, more than 345,000 ophthalmologists, ophthalmic nurses, professional eye care workers and village health workers have been trained through funding from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Since 1993, SightFirst has approved 11 grants totaling US$1.5 million to the Korat Institute. The program provides training that builds and strengthens human resources, including both national health managers and mid-level ophthalmic personnel, to prevent blindness. The benefits of the course extend well beyond the borders of Thailand. When the national program managers return home, the trainings are adapted and implemented into country-level plans. The knowledge needed to impact the fight against blindness reaches more people. “Korat graduates are all at very key positions in their regions, within the Ministries of Health, as well as in the local eye care institutions,” said Dr. K Konyama, director of the Korat Institute of Public Ophthalmology, “In addition, they are all continuing to work for the future success of blindness prevention and eye care system development.” Through SightFirst grants, the program has trained about 300 people from 17 different countries. Students have come to the program from Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. LCIF, along with the help of Lions worldwide, continues to prevent blindness and restore sight through the training of eye care specialists who will sustain and enhance eye care services well into the future.
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