Apart from the primary mission of Athe Eye Foundation of America, which is to eliminate avoidable childhood blindness, the organization is involved in several other initiatives in the eld of healthcare. The key among these are:
WV Diabetic Initiative
It is estimated that half of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. In West Virginia alone, 150,000 people are living with Type 2 or adult-onset, diabetes. Under the auspices of the WV Diabetic Initiative, the EFA, Monongalia General Hospital, andtheWVUSchool of Public Health have joined forces to study 50 individuals with diabetes and prediabetes in two WV counties. This clinical study of Monongalia and Preston county residents aims to determine if the most deleterious effects of long-term diabetes can be prevented or reversed when these individuals are placed on a healthy diet and exercise regimen. We also offer free eye examinations to patients with diabetes participating in the WVU School of Public Health pilot program, in which the patients meet at a local church and learn about different ways to manage their illness. e goal of these two important collaborations is to teach these patients to change the behaviors that contribute to type 2 diabetes, as prevention is much more desirable than management of the disease.
Children’s Nutrition Program
According to a report by the WVU Food Justice Lab, 300,000 West Virginia families visit a food bank to supplement their food needs every month. The foods that will help people “go further” in terms of their health are fruits and vegetables. Through this, they also develop preferences for foods they are exposed to in a positive environment, like birthday parties and holidays. Fruits and vegetables typically are not the star of the show on these occasions. Also, children naturally prefer sweet and salty tastes from birth.
West Virginia ranks fourth in the number of adults who eat less than one serving of fruits and vegetables daily. This risk factor among West Virginia’s adults contributes to high rates of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. The Kids Farmers Market Program provides kids an opportunity to shop for themselves at a farmers market set up at their school, childcare center, or community event.
Each child receives $4 in “kid’s coupons” and a reusable shopping bag. Children are drawn into the scene of brightly colored fruits and vegetables of all shapes and sizes. Adults are amazed at the tenacity with which kids begin munching on their purchases.
The Eye Foundation of America is committed to working with Extension services to advance childhood nutrition and prevention of disease and potential crisis. e adage ‘an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’ still holds good today when we consider that one in five fifth graders in West Virginia has high blood pressure. We need pounds of cure.
The EFA will continue to offer eye camps in more than 20 developing countries, train medical personnel to serve the needy, and educate the population at large on preventative eye care and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to the Goutami Eye Institute, which has a wing dedicated to children, the EFA plans to build a service and research hospital in India where no child will be denied treatment.
The EFA operates on donations, mostly from patients and friends. Pharmaceutical companies donate their products to the cause as well. However, more money, qualified people, pharmaceuticals, and state-of-the-art equipment are always needed. By focusing on prevention, education, and medical services in developing countries, the potential of the individuals in those countries are limitless and embody the concept of ways to do more with less.
Our work is only just beginning. If we take the steps to build the discipline of collaboration into our work (collaboration with other Interested groups), the sky is the limit. We can use the abundant resources if we depend on each other. Mutual respect between the many organizations is the key.
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