Since 1974, SEE International has connected our volunteer humanitarian ophthalmologists with partners around the world. These partnerships provide the resources and expertise needed to care for patients today as well as create opportunities for cross-cultural skills exchange, improving the quality of eye care for future generations.
SEE is focused on sustainable program growth to improve the quality and quantity of international vision care training and services. We empower our partners so they can provide essential and transformative vision care in their communities for years to come.
Through VISION 2020 LINKS-USA, SEE works to address the issue many of our international ophthalmic partners face: a lack of human resources in their local communities.
Engaging with U.S. ophthalmic institutions, VISION 2020 LINKS-USA matches international needs with institutional expertise, so committed partners can create stronger vision care systems.
VISION 2020 LINKS-USA is SEE International’s U.S. extension of the VISION 2020 LINKS Programme located at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The program marks the expansion of the LINKS project as well as SEE International’s close relationship with the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) and the LSHTM in London.
The VISION 2020 LINKS Programme was developed in the UK as an implementing program of ‘VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’, a global initiative of the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization. The VISION 2020 UK International Board approached the International Centre for Eye Health, LSHTM, to identify a way in which ophthalmologists and allied health personnel could provide training input to countries that have less than three ophthalmologists per million population – particularly sub-Saharan Africa.
Since its inauguration in 2004, the VISION 2020 LINKS Programme has established more than 30 long-term LINKS, primarily in Africa, linking training institutions in the UK with training institutions overseas. A LINK provides a supportive framework that enables both partners, domestic and international, the opportunity to grow and learn together on the basis of mutual trust. A Memorandum of Understanding sets out the key priorities of the overseas partner and how the LINK participants will work together to build capacity, strengthen training programs, and enhance the quality of care for patients.
In 2018, the first SEE-guided LINK was established between Rwandan International Institute of Ophthalmology (RIIO) in Kigali, Rwanda and Wills Eye Hospital, in Philadelphia.
The primary goal of this new LINK is to establish the first residency program in Rwanda. With the help of Wills Eye Hospital’s educational resources and faculty support, RIIO’s residency program curriculum will be formally established within three years.
Rwanda did not previously have an ophthalmic residency program, forcing anyone with an interest in ophthalmology out of the country to receive the appropriate training. When ophthalmologists must leave a country to be formally trained, there is inevitably a percentage that do not return, greatly impacting both the Rwandan economy and the population’s access to quality eye care.
SEE’s VISION 2020 LINKS-USA is an exciting opportunity to encourage motivated doctors to formalize existing relationships, providing the structure needed to match needs with resources and set clear goals to address the overseas partner’s priorities. The RIIO – Wills Eye LINK will serve to train eye doctors in-country for the first time, and build a program that will produce many future Rwandan ophthalmologists. This will directly benefit the population of Rwanda, who currently face unnecessary blindness due to the shortage of trained ophthalmologists.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more.