COP Initiative aka Certified Ophthalmic Paramedics Initiative was launched by Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH) in 2014. It is a program to train young women who belong to marginalized societies to become technically sound, learn life skills for holistic development so that they can navigate their life pressure. They are the ones who do not get adequate opportunities.
It is said, “When you educate a man, you educate an individual; when you educate a woman, you educate a country.” The COP initiative at SCEH is entitled to not only create empowered and efficient skilled allied ophthalmic employees but also to foster a safe and productive work environment for these young girls.
By supporting young women to stay in the training school for two years, SCEH indirectly contribute towards the prevention of early marriage and childbearing. The program serves the need to bring in gender equality through employability. The trained paramedics have enhanced knowledge about eye care; have computer proficiency and counseling skills, which gives them respect in the society and power to stand on their own feet.
Aim of the Project
The COP initiative is aimed at creating an empowered cadre of trained allied ophthalmic personnel for strengthening the Ophthalmic services delivery system. SCEH has the vision to be a centre of excellence in allied ophthalmic training and consultancy by filling the gap in Human Resources by offering society equipped, efficient, and an empowered cadre of allied ophthalmic paramedics who never look back.
How the Project Works?
Under the program, young women from the lower strata across all the SCEH Centers are selected as beneficiaries. By taking the students from across all the centres, SCEH is trying to meet the deficit of skilled manpower and thereby strengthening the centres. An aptitude test is developed that is administered on students. A special emphasis is laid on one-to-one discussions with candidates and their parents. The preference is given to the underprivileged section of society for the lack of career opportunities.
The two-year Certified Ophthalmic Paramedics (COP) program or AOP program has gone from strength to strength, building from an indigenous home-grown training program to a nationally accepted standard program with a good reputation in the eye care circle. It is certified by Health Sector Skill Council. Fully supported by the management, it has a dedicated infrastructure, well-structured and executed curriculum, expert faculty, foolproof assessment techniques, and a student-friendly environment.
Impact of the project
Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, to meet the deficit of skilled Allied Ophthalmic Paramedics (AOPs), has enrolled more than 700 cadres of women from the bottom of the pyramid, to capacitate them to function as ophthalmic assistants since 2014 with a significant focus on their holistic development and women empowerment.
Through this, the volume of patients seen and operated by the hospital has doubled. It is operating more than 40,000 patients in a year and screening around 500,000 people in a year with more than 50% of its paramedical human resources being contributed by this course.
Aid the Project
The project is a major success, and to scale it further, it requires support from the public in the following ways:
Connecting the organisation with prospective students that would benefit from the course,
Supporting the organisation by meeting the infrastructure requirements for the course.