FOCUS is dedicated to promoting eye care solutions in Haiti. This is not only through direct patient care, but more importantly by training, equipping, and supplying Haitian ophthalmologists and those in training the tools and support they need to successfully deliver high quality eye care to the people of Haiti. Central to our mission is the idea that progress is best made through coordination of various eye care organizations and individuals in a way that leverages the strengths of each through effective communication and coordination of activities with our Haitian colleagues. We strongly believe that the best place to train Haitian ophthalmologists is in Haiti and is a superior method of training than having them do visiting observerships in the US. Economic, cultural, and institutional barriers are best overcome with building personal relationships. While FOCUS works primarily in Haiti, we also work with educational eye care programs in other countries as the need arises.
FOCUS has a long colorful history in Global Ophthalmology. Founded in 1961 by three Chicago area ophthalmologists; Dr. James McDonald, Dr. Art Light, and Dr. Thomas Stamm. The initial missions were to Haiti and their amazing stories are well chronicled in the ebook “Focus in Haiti”. In the early 1970s the organization expanded its outreach to Nigeria and and continued to operate for many years under the leadership of Dr. Marilyn Miller. In 2019 the leadership of FOCUS began to transition to the next generation of ophthalmologists with the addition of Dr. Daniel Alter, Dr. Matthew Thompson, and Dr. William Myers to the executive board. We hope to inspire the next generation of visiting and local ophthalmologists to advance eye care in Haiti and the developing world.
There is a tremendous need for eye care in Haiti since it has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world and a very low number of providers. Training of local doctors is extremely limited by lack of money, equipment and supplies. Severe institutional weakness at all levels in Haiti is pervasive and hampers efforts of both non-government organizations (NGOs) and individuals wanting to help. Simply put, many organizations involved in eye care in the developing world struggle to find financially strong and functional Haitian institutional counterparts to work with. Even willing NGOs can not effectively deploy assets easily. New solutions to old problems are needed.
The FOCUS Proverb
The FOCUS Proverb: “Give a person a fish and feed them for a day, Teach a person to fish and feed them for life. If there are no fish in the pond, find another solution.” The FOCUS proverb challenges us to rethink the concept of “sustainability” with an eye towards solving problems with specific real solutions tailored to Haiti while understanding that areas of extreme poverty may not have enough resources to apply “private/public” models of eyecare in which those that can pay subsidize those that can not. Although this model has been successful in many poor countries throughout the world, the direct application in Haiti at this time has been marginally successful.
To download the free ebook FOCUS in Haiti please click on the link below.