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