CHICAGO – Malawi’s first-ever optometrists will graduate from Mzuzu University next month, thanks to significant funding from Optometry Giving Sight.
Optometry Giving Sight Global CEO Clive Miller told attendees here at the World Council of Optometry meeting that the group is “committed to funding sustainable eye care projects in the areas of education, training, infrastructure support and service delivery.”
According to Mr. Miller, more than $6.5 million has been allocated or disbursed to 44 projects in 31 countries since 2007, and Optometry Giving Sight is currently funding 35 projects in 23 countries.
Funding has been directed to regional schools of optometry, the establishment of vision centers and optical labs, training and service delivery projects, refractive error advocacy and promotion, and refractive error and vision care projects.
“A figure was given yesterday that the world needs 1 million optometrists to meet current needs,” Mr. Miller said. “The schools of optometry are a key mechanism by which such eye care professionals will be created.”
A vision center at Xochicalco University, Mexico, was opened in August 2011. It is staffed by fourth-year optometry students under supervision from optometrists, Mr. Miller said, and provides affordable vision care for people in the local barrios.
The first ophthalmic association was established in January in East Timor, which is recognized as one of the poorer countries of the world and suffered many years of internal conflict before gaining independence in 2000, Mr. Miller said.
He noted that Optometry Giving Sight was created in 2003 as the result of an agreement among the World Council of Optometry, the International Centre for Eyecare Education and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness as a means of mobilizing resources from the global optometric community to help eliminate refractive error blindness and low vision.