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Over 1,000 pairs of spectacles have been distributed to residents across Guyana as part of a new spectacles programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.
The new initiative complements services offered at the Ministry’s Difficult Circumstances Unit through which persons can receive their spectacles at a reduced cost or for free.
It was found in December 2020 that persons who benefitted from services under the Unit were mainly from Regions Three, Four and Ten. However, according to the Ministry, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud was determined to make the services accessible to more people.
With the support of several eye care entities, countrywide efforts have begun to take the spectacles programme to regions all across Guyana. The first rollout began on February 19, 2021, at Albion. The programme has since been taken to all the regions except for Region Five which will be covered in September.
“When an elderly person tells me that they are seeing clearly for the first time, or people say they have never been able to afford spectacles and it prevents them from functioning optimally and now they can actually participate more fulsomely – it really warms my heart and the entire team feels very humbled to be able to provide this service. I am looking at expansion of this in the future,” Minister Persaud said.
Meanwhile, Technical Officer attached to the Ministry and the Head of the Difficult Circumstances Unit, Mahendra Budhram, shared that the eye care companies providing support for the initiative charge the Ministry a fixed price for a pair of spectacles, irrespective of how much more expensive the cost is.
The entities supporting the Ministry on this initiative include Revision Optical, Miracle Care Vision, Courts Optical, Modern Optical, Optical Works, Miracle Optical, Mings Optical and Optique Vision. However, persons with a quotation from another agency would also not be refused help from the ministry.
“For some elderly ones, this is the first time that they’ve received a pair of spectacles in their life. So, we’ve been seeing how this programme has been improving the quality of life for so many people,” Budhram expressed.
He added that the eye tests conducted by the Ministry also assist residents to pick up on other underlying issues that they may need to be treated for. Many persons, especially in the hinterland regions, have been making good use of the provision.
According to Budhram, approximately 1,000 pairs of spectacles were distributed during Minister Persaud’s outreaches so far, and another 200 to persons who visited the Difficult Circumstances Unit.
The Ministry helps to purchase spectacles for persons who are over 65 years old, for children, those who are unemployed, single parents or vulnerable members of society.
“Persons can come with a quotation and, based on their situation, we would either pay part or cover the entire cost for the spectacles. We approach it on a case by case basis,” Budhram explained.