Annually, on the second Thursday of October, World Sight Day is celebrated to raise awareness of the 36 million people who are blind and the 217 million people which are visually impaired worldwide.
This year, Standard Chartered is celebrating 15 years of Seeing is Believing (SiB).
Standard Chartered has reached the goal it set in 2011 to raise US$100million for the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment. The goal has been reached two years ahead of the bank’s 2020 target date.
Eighty percent of blindness and vision loss is curable or preventable. That means four in five of the visually impaired lose their sight needlessly.
According to the Ghana Blindness and Visual Study (2015), 0.74 percent of Ghanaians are blind. Additionally, 1.07 percent have severe visual impairment. That’s why Standard Chartered committed to raising US$100million by 2020 through Seeing is Believing – its global initiative, run in partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) – to fund leading eye-health organisations to deliver projects that train doctors and health workers, develop eye-care infrastructure and support services to the poor.
In Ghana, since 2007 Seeing is Believing has implemented various projects delivering eye-care interventions to millions of Ghanaians across the country’s 10 regions. Projects undertaken include the construction of fully-equipped eye clinics complete with surgery facilities for training health workers in identifying and dealing with primary eye-health issues. We have delivered sight-restoring surgeries, provided spectacles to low-income families, and provided eyecare equipment to 35 district hospitals.
Mrs. Mansa Nettey, CEO Standard Chartered Ghana said: “Over the last decade, the bank has invested over GH¢13m to improve the eye health of Ghanaians through the integration of primary eye-care into primary health care across the 10 regions of Ghana – changing the lives of millions of Ghanaians. We will continue to work with Orbis Africa to expand the delivery of child eye health services from the primary level through the referral system to the tertiary level by strengthening the existing health system specifically in four districts in the Ashanti Region”.
With the fundraising goal achieved, SiB will continue to fund eye health projects up until the end of 2020. After this point, Standard Chartered will support the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment through the Vision Catalyst Fund (VCF). Led by a group of private sector and philanthropic organisations, the VCF is an ambitious plan to establish a US$1billion fund that will provide eye-care to all people in the Commonwealth and around the world.