It is estimated that over 20 percent of those blind from cataract in the world live in China, and every year there are 400,000 new cases. One cause of this continued increase is that a large number of township/county hospitals do not have ophthalmology clinics nor adequately trained manpower and equipment.
To address this great need, LCIF has partnered with the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Disabled Person’s Federation on the SightFirst China Action (SFCA) project. SFCA was officially launched nationwide in 1999, building on earlier pilot grants. Since then, SFCA has been preventing blindness in China, the world's most populous country. Completed in 2002 through a grant of US$15.38 million, Phase I of SFCA supported 2.1 million cataract surgeries in China and established surgical eye units in 104 rural counties that previously had none.
Phase II of SFCA continued the success of the first initiative, preventing blindness in China on a large scale. A SightFirst grant of US$15.5 million was combined with about US$200 million from the Chinese government. During Phase II, nearly 3 million cataract surgeries were performed, and eye care infrastructure was strengthened by creating secondary eye care units at hospitals in 200 underdeveloped counties, provinces and Tibet.
Phase III was launched during Lions World Sight Day in October 2011. The event in Shenzhen, China, announced new programs in partnership with the China Disabled Persons' Federation and Ministry of Health to increase low vision services and launch a trachoma program to eliminate the disease in China by 2020. Additionally, LCIF is providing SightFirst funds to develop a regional training program model. LCIF has initially commited US$2.67 million to continue and expand SightFirst China Action.
As the first international volunteer service organizations in China, Lions Clubs International is proud that this partnership created one of LCIF’s largest and most successful SightFirst programs.