Community Eye Centers (CECs) are an important innovation in the developing world because they ensure care for the poorest and most unreachable patients. Staffed with full-time ophthalmic assistants they provide basic eye care treatment and screenings for infection, as well as referrals for patients who need more advanced care.
In Nepal, Tilganga currently manages 14 Community Eye Centers. In 2016, the CECs together treated more than 120,000 patients. These centers offer essential eye care to the underserved including:
The CECs are in Bhaktapur, Dhading, Dolakha, Jiri, Manang, Mustang, Nuwakot, Okhaldhunga, Ramechapp, Sindhu, Solu, Swoyambhu, Rolpa and Rasuwa.
Community Eye Hospitals are the next step beyond a Community Eye Center and serve as surgical facilities with at least one full time ophthalmologist on staff and a full team of eye care professionals.
The ideal Community Eye Hospital model is the Hetauda Community Eye Hospital (HCEH) in the Terai region of Nepal - approximately 5 hours southwest from Kathmandu. HCEH has a staff of 32 (17 female) with two full time ophthalmologists on site. The staff is engaged in extensive outreach work, and have steadily increased the surgical volume each year. The number of surgeries performed at Hetauda in 2016 was 3,580, more than double the amount done in 2009 — after HCP's investment in infrastructure.
Hetauda also serves as a training site for Tilganga’s Cataract Surgery Training Program.
Hetauda is in the process of adding patient housing and USAID ASHA support has been committed to build on-campus housing for staff and visiting faculty. Sub-specialists from Tilganga and other partners visit frequently to provide lectures to existing staff and care to those who might otherwise go untreated because of distance to a tertiary eye center.