Prior to partnering with an eye clinic, Unite For Sight rigorously analyzes the clinic, establishes a pilot program, and assesses the results. We partner with clinics that share our ideology of proper standards for community care and eye health, and we help them develop an outreach infrastructure that provides cost-effective care to patients living in extreme poverty. We support our partner eye clinics by investing human and financial resources in their social ventures and encouraging the longevity of their efforts. We do not solicit requests for partnerships; partnership requests are submitted by talented local ophthalmologists.
"When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding a solution for it... Charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about those of the poor. It appeases our consciences."(1)--Mumhammed Yunus, 2006 Nobel Laureate
Sustainability is particularly important in the healthcare setting. In the locations where Unite For Sight partners with local eye clinics, the clinics are often the only eye care providers for a large region and population. Therefore, it is of vital importance that eye clinics retain their ability to operate autonomously through a sustainable business model. Clinics are businesses that contribute to economic growth and job creation while providing health services. In addition to providing charitable care, local clinics must utilize market-driven approaches to achieve long-term success and impact. A clinic should operate as a business in a competitive marketplace because relying solely on charitable contributions and grants does not enable a clinic to be sustainable or locally competitive.
Unfortunately, most eye clinics in the developing world do not have the financial or human capital to provide eye care to non-paying patients in rural villages, refugee camps, and slums. Unite For Sight helps existing eye clinics develop outreach infrastructure so that free care can be provided to patients living in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, the clinic’s private business continues as an enterprise independent of the Unite For Sight-supported outreach programs. Having this strong base of independence and sustainability comes from good business practices, which is why Unite For Sight partners exclusively with existing eye clinics that also provide care to regular paying patients.
(1)Yunus, M. Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the battle against world poverty. New York: Public Affairs, 1999: 237.
The quality of the healthcare provided by the eye clinics is extremely important. We therefore assess each clinic's quality of care and patient outcomes before developing a partnership and establishing our outreach programs that apply best practices in community eye health.
We employ social entrepreneurship solutions to eliminate preventable blindness. We require that partner eye clinics demonstrate significant commitment to providing community outreach services that will eliminate patient barriers to care. This delivery of services to patients in rural villages and slums must generate measurable social impact and outputs, including a considerable increase in the clinic's cataract surgical rate.