“The Disabling Legacy of Landmines”

15th Member States Parties MeetingMaiming, blinding, and killing, un-cleared anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions continue to be a serious problem in many of the world’s poorest countries. Recently, IEF Board member Dr. Larry Schwab was a delegate observer to the 15th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Santiago, Chile. Representing the International Eye Foundation and the West Virginia Chapter Campaign, Dr. Schwab presented on the devastating disabilities of blindness and ocular morbidity caused by landmines.

Since the Ottawa Treaty of 1997 banning landmines, the number of injuries and deaths due to landmines have decreased. Yet, there were 16,000 injuries in 2015, approximately 80% of which are civilians and two-thirds of those are women and children. The IEF endorsed the treaty banning landmines in 1997.

Pictured in the photo are campaigners with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), representing many NGOs working for a mine-free world. Dr. Larry Schwab is second from the left. On the far right is Nora Sheets, an art teacher at St. Francis School in Morgantown, WV, whose students of PSALM (Proud Students Against Landmines) created the banner.

Over 100 of the 162 nations that are party to the Ottawa Treaty were represented at this conference, the theme of which was “while much progress has been made, the work is not completed”.

For more information on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, click here.

Victoria Sheffield elected IAPB Vice President at 10th General Assembly in Durban

vms-with-dr-motsoaledi-resizedVictoria Sheffield elected IAPB Vice President
IEF President & CEO Victoria M. Sheffield was unanimously re-elected Vice President of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) for the next four years, 2016-2020, during the 10th General Assembly in Durban, South Africa. Serving as Master of Ceremonies for the Opening Ceremony, Ms. Sheffield welcomed over 1,200 delegates from around the world introducing the keynote speaker, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th President of Liberia and the first elected female Head of State in Africa; Mr. Willis Mchunu, Premier of Kwazulu-Natal; and Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Minister of Health (pictured at left with Victoria Sheffield). Ms. Sheffield noted that “It was an honor and a privilege to have been asked to serve as MC for the Opening Ceremony and to meet the honored dignitaries at our quadrennial event.

With the theme “Stronger Together”, the Assembly highlighted the many global partnerships in eye care fostered by IAPB and its members. A leader in collaborative partnerships to strengthen and increase access to eye care services, the International Eye Foundation was honored with IAPB’s Collaboration Award presented during the Opening Ceremony. Raheem Rahmathullah, IEF’s Director of Sustainability Initiatives; Larry Pate, Director of IEF’s SightReach Surgical Program; and Board Member Dr. Larry Schwab also represented IEF at the General Assembly with course presentations and scientific posters. IEF was proud to have been recognized for its over 50 years of fighting blindness in developing countries.

IEF Honored by IAPB in Durban

2016-collaboration-awardIEF Honored by IAPB in Durban. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) presented its Collaboration Award to the International Eye Foundation (IEF) during the Opening Ceremony of the 10th General Assembly in Durban, South Africa. The Award recognized IEF’s innovative and highly successful approach to expanding eye care services through collaborations with 60 eye health partners in 23 countries since 2000. Nominator Dr. Rainald Duerksen of Fundacion Vision in Paraguay noted “…starting ‘under the radar’ focusing on leadership, management, administration, policies, efficiencies, clinical quality outcomes, and revenue/expense criteria, a number of partners have joined with IEF to focus on these approaches as the critical road to tackling the growing demand for eye care in resource poor countries.” Victoria M. Sheffield, IAPB Vice President and IEF President & CEO served as MC for the Opening Ceremony. The Award was received by Raheem Rahmathullah, IEF Director of Sustainability Initiatives. See the IAPB announcement.
(Pictured: Victoria Sheffield and Raheem Rahmathullah with Collaboration Award)

IEF Co-Sponsored Vision 2020 USA Briefing on World Sight Day on New NASEM Report on Eye and Vision Health

IEF Co-Sponsored Vision 2020 USA Briefing on World Sight Day. v2020-usaVision 2020 USA held a briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, October 13 on “Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow,” a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus study. The “report examines core principles and recommends public health strategies to reduce visual impairment and promote eye health in the United States.” Jeff Todd, chair of Vision 2020 USA and COO of Prevent Blindness led an expert panel including: Lori Grover, OD, PhD of King Devick Test, Inc., Eve Higginbotham, SM, MD of Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, and Meg McCoy, JD, MPH of NASEM.

As a founding member of Vision 2020/USA, IEF was a co-sponsor for the World Sight Day briefing. World Sight Day is an international day of awareness held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

Vision 2020 USA Press Release

River Blindness Eliminated in Guatemala

onc-ief-jeep-yepocapa-resizedRiver Blindness Eliminated in Guatemala. Guatemala has become the fourth country in the world to eliminate river blindness. The International Eye Foundation is proud to have played a key role in the beginning of the effort to control, and eliminate, this debilitating and blinding disease. In 1989 when Merck and Company made the miracle drug Mectizan® available for human use to treat river blindness (onchocerciasis), IEF pioneered the first community based Mectizan distribution program in Yepocapa, Guatemala with support from the River Blindness Foundation. In 1991, IEF’s Director of Programs, Jack Blanks, moved to Guatemala to establish the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA). IEF’s distribution program continued for three years and then became part of OEPA funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. IEF extends its congratulations to Guatemala and is proud of our part in this outstanding achievement. You can learn more from the PAHO Press Release.

A visually impaired man receives his Mectizan_ treatment in Yepocapa.

A visually impaired man receives his Mectizan_ treatment in Yepocapa.

Instituto de la Vision opens new eye clinic in Chiapas Mexico

Chiapas clinic outside

New eye clinic opened in Chiapas Mexico by Instituto de la Vision (IV).  IEF’s eye care partner in Mexico, IV recently opened their new, expanded eye clinic in Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas.  IV Directors Dr. Cesar Puesan and Dr. Pedro Gomez moved to the new facilities to allow for expansion of their eye care services as the clinic grows.  With financial support from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind and Vision for the Poor, IEF will assist IV to construct a new operating theatre.

Miami Declaration – Improving Eye Health in Latin America

Miami Declaration GroupMiami Declaration — Building on four years of collaboration and capacity building in the Latin America region, the International Eye Foundation (IEF) hosted a meeting of stakeholders including the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness/Latin America (IAPB/LA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Miami 12-13 January 2016 to formalize and operationalize our work going forward. Thanks to the support of IEF, Orbis, CBM, Seva and others, much has been achieved in the region programmatically and financially building Human Resources for Eye Health (HReH) training capacities at Visualiza in Guatemala, Clinica Divino Nino Jesus in Peru, Instituto de la Vision in Mexico, and Instituto Vision in Paraguay to address the training objectives as set out in the IAPB VISION2020/Latin America Strategic Plan. “The Miami Declaration” states six objectives and notes the agencies which will take specific responsibilities. We congratulate all the partners involved and commend their commitment to improving Human Resources for Eye Health in Latin America.

Read “The Miami Declaration”

Victoria M. Sheffield Elected Vice President of IAPB

VMS Victoria M. Sheffield was elected Vice President of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with a majority vote on the first ballot in a special election held on November 30, 2015. As Vice President, she will provide leadership and guidance to fulfill the IAPB’s mission of saving sight and preventing blindness, especially in the developing world.

Ms. Sheffield has 45 years’ experience in ophthalmology and blindness prevention, and is a recognized leader in international eye care development. After service as a Viet Nam era veteran in the US Air Force Medical Corps, she trained as a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist at the Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, DC. Ms. Sheffield joined IEF in 1979 as Assistant Director for Paramedical Training Programs living and working in Kenya for three years. In 1984, she joined Helen Keller International as Director of Technical, Educational, and Scientific Services where she consulted with the WHO’s “Programme for Prevention of Blindness” and worked closely with UNICEF during the drought and famine in Ethiopia and Sudan in 1985/1986 battling vitamin A deficiency and trachoma. She holds leadership positions within IAPB, VISION2020/USA, InterAction, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) committees, the International Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Council Advisory Board, and served on the Board of the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. She holds the rank of Dame in The Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Among her numerous awards and citations are the 2010 “Prince Abdulaziz Ahmad Al Saud Prevention of Blindness Award” from MEACO, and the AAO Senior Achievement Award in 2014. Ms. Sheffield has lived in five countries on four continents, and has professional experience in 42 countries of the 102 she has visited.

Ms. Sheffield stated “I was honored and humbled….when asked to stand for IAPB Vice President. My priority is to grow IAPB and open opportunities for all members to participate.”

Dr. William E. Campbell Honored with 2015 Nobel Prize

Elderly man led to treatment for river blindness Yepocapa The International Eye Foundation congratulates Dr. William E. Campbell who was jointly named the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine with Dr. Satoshi Omura of Japan. Drs. Campbell and Omura were honored for their discovery of avermectin.

Conducting his research at Merck & Co., Inc., Dr. Campbell discovered that ivermectin, a derivative compound of avermectin, may be effective in treating river blindness (onchocerciasis) in humans. This discovery led to the development of Mectizan® (ivermectin) for the treatment of river blindness, a devastating parasitic disease which affects millions of people in poor communities, mostly in Africa.

In 1987, Merck & Co., Inc. made the momentous decision to provide Mectizan® free of charge for as long as needed. IEF was a pioneer in river blindness control programs first working with Africare in Nigeria beginning in 1990. In 1992, IEF began distribution of Mectizan® in Cameroon, Malawi, and Guatemala. IEF continues community based distribution programs in Cameroon treating over 1,000,000 people in Adamaoua and South Provinces annually. Since 1997, IEF programs have distributed over 10,000,000 treatments of Mectizan® provided by the Mectizan Donation Programme at the Carter Center.Young boy measured for dosage in Cameroon

IEF applauds Dr. Campbell for his recognition as a Nobel Prize recipient, and takes pride in our 25 year commitment to saving the sight of millions from the scourge of river blindness.

Bulgaria Reception

Julia Sevilla, Ambassador Poptodorova and Cyd EverettHer Excellency Elena Poptodorova, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States, welcomed 50 guests to the Residence on April 22 for a fund-raising reception to benefit the IEF. Ambassador Poptodorova shared the history of the home in Northwest Washington along with information on IEF’s involvement in eye care in Bulgaria dating to the early 1990′s. Guests enjoyed fine Bulgarian wines as they admired the beautiful artwork in this wonderful historic home. IEF wishes to thank Ambassador Poptodorova for her gracious hospitality.

Official Relations with World Health Organization

WHO logoAt their January 2015 meeting, the WHO Executive Board approved IEF’s application for “official relations” status for another three years. IEF is one of only five international eye care organizations from around the world who enjoy this status.

Victoria Sheffield Speaks to Rotary Club of Washington, DC

Victoria Sheffield and Jennifer HaraIEF President & CEO Victoria M. Sheffield spoke to the Rotary Club of Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 28. Her presentation was titled “Sustainability of Eye Hospitals in Resource Poor Countries – 21st Century Development.” Club President Jennifer Hara (right) is shown with Ms. Sheffield.

World Sight Day 2014: The Economic and Societal Impact of Diabetic Retinopathy

Sheffield-Block-WSD-2014As a founding member of Vision 2020/USA, IEF co-hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to raise awareness about blindness in the US and abroad. Dr. Susan Bressler of the Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University and Ann Williams, PhD, RN, CDE of Case Western Reserve University shared information on the economic and societal impact of diabetic retinopathy. The briefing was chaired by Dr. Sandra Block, Chair of VISION2020/USA (pictured to the right with IEF President and CEO Victoria Sheffield). World Sight Day is an international day of awareness held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

“I can finally go to school!”

Betty with Grandmother and AuntBetty wanted to go to school so badly but has never had that chance. She’s 8 years old and has been caring for her grandmother Silia (left) and aunt Carice (right), both blind from cataracts, because her parents had to go to work every day. Haiti is such a poor country and families depend on every member to take care of each other. But Betty’s life and her future changed for the better since both Silia and Carice received sight-restoring cataract surgery at IEF’s partner Clinique Vision Plus (CVP) in Cap Haitian. Thanks to CVP’s Medical Director Dr. Guerline Roney who performed the surgery, Silia and Carice can care for themselves, be active in their family, and Betty can finally go to school for the first time in her life!

Clinique Vision Plus opened its doors in 2013 thanks to the support of IEF and Vision for the Poor and many donors who made it possible. CVP adopted IEF’s social enterprise approach offering a range of services to its patients, especially the poor. Saving sight helps the patient, but it also helps the whole family, and in this case, Betty is the joyful recipient of the benefits of her elders’ cataract surgery. Thank you for supporting IEF and the many ophthalmologists we help around the world!

Raheem Rahmathullah honored with IAPB Eye Health Leader Award

Raheem-IAPB-Award-9-21-2014Raheem Rahmathullah, IEF’s Directory of Sustainability Initiatives, was honored by the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness with a 2014 IAPB Eye Health Leader Award. The presentation was made during the IAPB meeting underway in Paris. Mr. Rahmathullah was recognized for his efforts to save sight through the implementation of innovative and effective eye care programs in the developing world. IEF wishes to express its pride in Raheem on the receipt of this Award.

Les Papillons de Nuit

Robin-Phillips-on-stageRobin Phillips wrote, choreographed and sang her heart out bringing to life the great artisans of Paris in the early 20th century. Saturday, June 7th was an evening of wine, delicacies and song supporting IEF’s blindness prevention programs in developing countries. Guests at Carderock Falls Manor were transported to the ambiance of an old French music hall in Robin’s in-home stage. The multi-talented Ms. Phillips channeled Erik Satie, Colette, Kiki, Maurice Chevalier, and Marlene Dietrich bringing the audience into song with well known melodies that are so much a part of French culture. IEF is grateful for our sponsors – Dr. & Mrs. Ralph Helmsen, Harry & Sandy Kolodner, and Howard Pyle & Victoria Sheffield.VMS-AmbP-KL

IEF named Charity of the Week

Charity of the week - IEF International Eye Foundation was named the Charity of the Week by The Week magazine on May 22, 2014. IEF was recognized for achievements in improving and expanding eye care in the developing world. Published in New York City, the magazine recognizes a charity each week. Click here to read the article.

Mexico Reception

Mexico ReceptionOver 60 people joined His Excellency Eduardo Medina Mora and his wife Laura at the Mexican Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, DC on February 25. The Reception, chaired by Ms. Cyd Everett was a great success. IEF wishes to recognize its Gold Sponsors: — Dr. & Mrs. Ralph Helmsen and Ms. Julia Sevilla and its Silver Sponsors – Ms. Cynthia Anthony, Ms. Kathryn Leckey, Mr. Howard Pyle, and Mr. & Mrs. Bernard Ries.

River Blindness Control in Cameroon Reaches 7.4 Million Treatments

Oncho-CameroonIEF pioneered community-based Mectizan® distribution to fight onchocerciasis, the worms that cause “river blindness”, in Cameroon in 1992. Last year, 1,010,376 people received their sight-saving dose of Mectizan bringing a cumulative total of 8.4 million treatments over the past two decades. The program began small treating approximately 6,000 people in the first years. Villages were added each year until now, nearly one million people are treated annually. IEF’s dedicated staff coordinate these treatment campaigns, each year training thousands of Community Directed Distributors. In 2013, 7,750 CDDs were trained in 1,655 communities. We are grateful to Merck and Company for its donation of the drug and our collaborative support from the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control, the Lions SightFirst Program, and the Cameroon National Onchocerciasis Control Programme.

New Optical Services Building Dedicated at Divino Nino Jesus , Lima, Peru

DNJ-plaque-groupA plaque dedicating the new optical service at Clinica Divino Nino Jesus (DNJ) in Lima, Peru was unveiled at a dedication ceremony on July 15, 2013. The ceremony recognized the financial support and technical assistance for the expansion of DNJ’s services given by Christoffel Blindenmission Latin America (CBM/LA) and the International Eye Foundation, Visualiza in Guatemala. From 2008 – 2012, DNJ increased consults from 17,326 to 54,521, and cataract surgeries from 655 to 2,318.

Additionally, IEF has been building DNJ’s capacity to mentor other eye clinics in sustainability programming. The DNJ leadership team has accompanied Mr. Rahmathullah, IEF’s Director of Sustainability Initiatives, on mentoring sessions with other eye clinics.

Instituto Regional de Oftalmologia (IRO), Peru

Raheem-IRO-tv-interviewIEF’s Raheem Rahmathullah was interviewed by the local newspapers and television station on his work with the Instituto Regional de Oftalmologia (IRO) in Trujillo, Peru in July. Thanks to support from Orbis International since 2012, Mr. Rahmathullah has been involved in building capacity and improving efficiencies that have lead to greater quality of care. The initial review of patient services began in the general ophthalmology, cataract, and glaucoma clinics assessing the admission process, financial systems, and logistics of clinic administration. Since the beginning of IEF’s intervention, general ophthalmology consults increased 24%, refractions increased 54%, glaucoma consults increased 27%, new glaucoma patients increased 7%, cataract patient consults increased 150%, and SIS (government insurance patients) consults increased 146%. Cataract operations increased 33% of which there was a 246% increase in government Insurance patients. While volume increased, it’s also important to note that patient process time decreased. Visual fields that had a waiting time of three months came down to one day, glaucoma consults waiting time reduced from 3.7 months to four 4 days among other efficiencies created.

IAPB recognizes Dr. Roney as a 2013 Eye Health Leader

Guerline-RoneyDr. Guerline Roney of Haiti was nominated by IEF as our 2013 International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) “Eye Health Leader”. She was chosen to receive a travel bursary from the L’OCCITANE Foundation to attend the IAPB Council of Members meeting, September 16-17, 2013 in Brighton, England where she will bring her vital voice to the deliberations and be recognized with her award. To quote IAPB, “The spirit of the initiative is very much geared to celebrate the diversity of skills and plurality of approaches of the many people working for eye health….”

As noted above, Dr. Roney is a co-founder of Clinique Vision Plus in Cap Haitien, Haiti. An IEF sustainability partner, the clinic provides quality eye care in an area of great need. Describing what makes Dr. Roney special, Victoria Sheffield, IEF President and CEO stated “Clinique Vision Plus is innovative in Haiti since it is neither strictly private nor charity, and provides services to all sectors of the population with affordable pricing.”

IEF is proud to have nominated Dr. Guerline Roney for recognition as on of the next generation of Eye Health Leaders.


Haiti — Grand Opening of Clinique Vision Plus

Haiti-outreachFulfilling a dream and following four years of planning and hard work, Drs. Guerline Roney, Marie Carmelle Lucien, and Luc-DuPuy Pierre celebrated the formal opening of Clinique Vision Plus in Cap Haitien, northern Haiti. The Sunday, May 5th dedication welcomed participants including John Barrows and Raheem Rahmathullah from IEF and Linda Boss from Vision for the Poor, the two main backers of the new eye clinic. Representatives from the National Council for the Prevention of Blindness, the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology, Optometry Giving Sight, and the Deseret International Foundation also participated.

Clinique Vision Plus is unique because it adopted IEF’s social enterprise approach to meet the eye care needs of the poor a well as those with the means to pay. From January through July this year, Dr. Roney and her colleagues have examined 4,037 patients and performed 202 cataract operations. Dr. Roney’s goal is “to provide quality eye care to the population of my native area particularly the most disadvantaged.”

We are grateful to Mrs. Buffy Cafritz and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for their generous grant support of this program.