IRIS Mundial has concentrated the better part of its efforts throughout the last year towards implementing a program to prevent and fight blindness in the remote region of FODES-5. This region, hours from the capital, is isolated and difficult to access, the only way being over mountainous terrain. The IRIS Mundial volunteers visit regularly in order to fine tune 

the training of the staff on site as well as to ensure that the program is running smoothly. Upon our return from Haiti, more specifically Labrousse, we have found that this program is appreciated by the Haitians. Prior to this program, entirely funded by IRIS Mundial, Ophthalmologic services were virtually non existent in this region.

Making eyecare accessible to all
This program has made impressive headway in the last few months. The team members of the Program for the Prevention and Fight Against Blindness in the intervention area of FODES-5, consists of two nurses and an assistant. They travel around in a four wheeler and by motorcycle to raise awareness as well as to screen both adults and children in schools.

Up to now, this program has screened over 2600 people; 1800 of which are students and teachers from FODES-5’s 12 associated schools. Although few students showed symptoms of eye problems, the program members noticed the dire state of the school’s teaching facilities such as the chalk boards and the lighting in the classrooms – all possible contributing factors to visual problems among children. Following simple recommendations made to management, small changes will soon be put in place in order to improve the learning conditions of these children – the future of their country.

Awareness Campaign
Awareness campaign workshops are given regularly in the area in order to reach the adult segment targeted by the program, permitting them to make appointments for much needed screening tests. Awareness campaign workshops are important as they offer information that could serve as a catalyst for behavioural changes, most notably as far as prevention is concerned (e.g. sun protection or safety eyewear) and they explain risks associated with certain eye diseases. Emphasis on the subject of glaucoma is also highlighted, that could potentially affect 10% of the population. The ultimate goal of this program is to improve the quality of life and work for Haitians through the experience of better vision.

Autonomy through Ophthalmologic care
Thanks to this program, patients with visual problems are referred to the newly renovated and fully equipped Centre de santé Notre-Dame-de-Lourde Ophthalmology Clinic. Following the Ophthalmologic exam, patients are able to purchase prescription or safety glasses, sunglasses, and eye drops at a nominal cost. Eye surgery offered through the program has restored the eyesight of cataract sufferers and has preserved it for those dealing with glaucoma.

A program of this magnitude could only be possible because of FODES-5, the organization heading the project. FODES-5 is also developing numerous projects in collaboration with different Quebec organizations in various sectors such as Agriculture (UPA-di), Education (Fondation Paul Guérin-Lajoie), Health (Collaboration Santé Internationale), and Energy (Hydro-Québec).