OVER 1,000 pairs of spectacles have been distributed to residents all across Guyana under the brand new spectacles programme by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security which subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud has been taking to various communities recently.
The new initiative complements that which is offered at the Ministry’s Difficult Circumstances Unit where persons show up to benefit from a facility that allows them to pay a minimal amount or nothing at all towards the cost of their new spectacles.
“With the community outreaches, though, you get to help so many more than the few that would come to the ministry because we are actually taking the spectacles to them in their communities,” Minister Persaud has observed.
Having found in December 2020 that persons who benefitted from services under the ministry’s Difficult Circumstances Unit – under which the spectacles programme falls – were mainly from Regions Three, Four and Ten, Minister Persaud was determined to make the services accessible to more people.
Thus began her countrywide efforts to take the spectacles programme to regions all across Guyana with support from several eye care entities. With the first roll out being on February 19, 2021 at Albion, the programme has 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 expressed.
Technical Officer attached to the ministry and Head of the Difficult Circumstances Unit Mahendra Budhram shared that the ministry has partnered with several eye care centres to allow for those in need to receive free eye testing and spectacles.
The eye care companies providing support in this effort would charge the ministry a fixed price for a pair of spectacles irrespective of how much more expensive the cost for the glasses are.
“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 this provision by the ministry and have been showing up at Minister Persaud’s outreaches to be able to benefit. As Budhram observed, this type of intervention would have been the first for those in remote locations across Guyana.
Several of the beneficiaries have expressed thanks for the initiative, noting that though they were badly in need of spectacles for a long time, they could not afford to obtain a pair privately. They’ve also relayed to the ministry how receiving the spectacles serves practical purposes for them in helping them become more effective with their small businesses and at their place of work.
Revision Optical, Miracle Care Vision, Courts Optical, Modern Optical, Optical Works, Miracle Optical, Mings Optical and Optique Vision are the entities supporting the ministry on this initiative. However, persons with a quotation from another agency would also not be refused help from the ministry.
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, are single parents or are vulnerable members of society.
“Persons can come with a quotation (at the ministry) 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. (Ministry of Human Services and Social Security press release)