Bhutan to be­come first coun­try in the world to erad­i­cate poor vi­sion

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Thuk­ten Zangpo

In Bhutan, 25 per­cent of peo­ple suf­fer from un­cor­rected re­frac­tive er­rors and are risk to ex­po­sure to ul­tra­vi­o­let rays due to high al­ti­tude.

Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), un­cor­rected poor vi­sion is the largest dis­abil­ity and loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity due to poor vi­sion cost USD.272B ev­ery year.

To erad­i­cate poor vi­sion in Bhutan, Let­ters of In­tent (LoT) was signed be­tween Es­silor In­ter­na­tional's chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Hu­bert Sag­nieres and Health Sec­re­tary, Dr Ugen Do­phu, and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Zhung Drat­shang in the pres­ence of Health Min­is­ter, Dechen Wangmo on De­cem­ber 7.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion was poss­bile un­der the guid­ance of Her Majesty the Royal Grand­mother Ke­sang Choe­den Wangchuck.

Es­silor's part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment will ad­dress the two big­gest bar­ri­ers to good vi­sion, ac­cess and aware­ness, through train­ing and ca­pac­ity build­ing, phil­an­thropic sup­port and rais­ing aware­ness.

To achieve the goal of erad­i­cat­ing poor vi­sion, Es­silor com­mits to pro­vide 400,000 pairs of cor­rec­tive eye­wear and sun­glasses, to be dis­pensed through ex­ist­ing health­care pro­grammes over the course of part­ner­ship to all Bhutanese in need.

In ad­di­tion, Es­silor will also help in strength­en­ing the ca­pac­ity of health pro­fes­sion­als on vi­sion care through the help of Es­silors glob­ally suc­cess­ful train­ing pro­grammes and tools.

Re­search stud­ies re­lated to eye care and pro­vid­ing eye equip­ment to the hos­pi­tals in the coun­try are also key ar­eas of sup­port. Ad­vo­cacy and aware­ness pro­gram on eye care will also be sup­ported.

Cha­ri­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Es­silor, Hu­bert Sag­nieres, said, “Poor vi­sion af­fects ev­ery as­pect of a per­son's life, im­pact­ing their abil­ity to learn, to work, to live in­de­pen­dently and to re­al­ize their full po­ten­tial. We are proud to be col­lob­o­rat­ing with the Bhutanese gov­ern­ment to de­velop strat­egy and ac­tions which will see poor vi­sion erad­i­cated from the coun­try. This will bring fur­ther pros­per­ity and hap­pi­ness to its peo­ple and Es­silor's one im­por­tant step closer to its am­bi­tion of erad­i­cat­ing poor vi­sion world­wide within one gen­er­a­tion.”

Thank­ing the Es­silor for the noble ini­tia­tive, Health Min­is­ter, Dechen Wangmo said that Bhutanese had al­ways faced the chal­lenges of af­ford­abil­ity of the eye glasses es­pe­cially for so­cially and eco­nomic dis­ad­vatage pop­u­la­tion.

“I am con­fi­dent that this project will set the mile­stone of Es­silor's vi­sion of de­liv­er­ing 50M eye glasses to 50M peo­ple by 2020.” “I called it com­pas­sion­ate friend­ship ven­ture, Bhutan by pop­u­la­tion and by size is very small and lot the things can be pi­loted here, i hope it can be repli­cated glob­ally to erad­i­cate vi­sion,” she added.

“Our mis­sion is to bring good vi­sion to ev­ery­one, ev­ery­where in the world.” Chief Mis­sion of­fi­cer, Es­silor In­ter­na­tional, Jayanth Bhu­varaghan said. “A per­son re­ceives 80 per­cent im­for­ma­tion through eyes and most of the peo­ple with low vi­sion lives in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, De­part­ment of Med­i­cal Ser­vices, Dr Pandup Tsh­er­ing, said that al­though health ex­pen­di­ture at 12 per­cent in Bhutan re­main low among the global com­par­i­son, Bhu- tan has made dra­matic progress in pro­vid­ing health ser­vices in Bhutan.

To ad­dress the lack of skilled eye care pro­fes­sion­als and ac­cess to eye­wear, Es­silor with its most suc­cess­ful in­clu­sive busi­ness, Eye Mi­tra from In­dia will train women and men to be­come pri­mary vi­sion care providers and mi­cro-en­trepreneurs in Bhutan. Es­silor will also sup­port qual­i­fied stu­dents to open up their own op­ti­cal stores in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Es­silor also plans to train ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment health as­sis­tants, vil­lage health work­ers and monks from the cen­tral monas­tic body, to do ba­sic vis­ual acu­ity tests, dis­trib­ute sim­ple read­ing glasses and di­rect pa­tients with re­frac­tive er­rors to eye health prac­ti­tion­ers, in­clud­ing the newly trained mi­croen­trepreneurs.

And to fur­ther ad­dress con­sumer at­ti­tudes and the lack of aware­ness around poor vi­sion, Es­silor to­gether with health minstry will work on de­vel­op­ing a na­tion wide aware­ness rais­ing cam­paign to sen­si­tise the gen­eral pub­lic to need for vi­sion cor­rec­tion and pro­tec­tion and the life chang­ing ben­e­fits it can have.

It also sup­ports health min­istry's 'Na­tional Eye Health Strate­gic Plan' (2018-2024) by con­trib­tu­ing to the de­vel­op­ment of the na­tional guide­lines and a le­gal reg­u­la­tion frame­work for op­ti­cal ser­vices and prac­tice.

Es­silor In­ter­na­tional is the world's lead­ing oph­thalmic op­tics com­pany. Es­silor de­sign, man­u­fac­tures and mar­kets a wide range of lenses to im­prove and pro­tect eye­sight. It's mis­sion is to im­prove lives by im­prov­ing sigh. It's am­bi­tious plan is to erad­i­cate poor vi­sion by 2050 across the world.

To erad­i­cate poor vi­sion in Bhutan, LoT was signed be­tween Es­silor In­ter­na­tional’s chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Hu­bert Sag­nieres and Health Sec­re­tary, Dr Ugen Do­phu

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