Banjul, Gambia — - Luxottica, Essilor, DHL and other industry leaders unite to provide services and expertise to equip and empower Gambians with local infrastructure to provide vision care access for entire country by 2015
OneSight, an independent nonprofit providing access to quality vision care and eyewear in underserved communities worldwide, is expanding its sustainable development work in The Gambia, a country in West Africa which previously had one optometrist to serve a population of 1.8 million.
This week, OneSight staff and volunteers are working side-by-side with Gambian partners to open an in-country, full surface optical manufacturing lab in Banjul and a second community-based vision center in Bansang. The openings build on the success of OneSight's sustainable vision center pilot location at Farafenni Regional Hospital which has provided vision screenings, eye exams, eyewear and medical referrals to more than 5,000 patients in the first year of operations.
By 2015, OneSight will open eight community-based vision centers in The Gambia supported by the in-country optical manufacturing lab. In cooperation with The Gambia National Eye Health Program (part of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare), OneSight is providing initial charitable capital investment and training to create a stable infrastructure for Gambians to provide ongoing access to quality, affordable vision care and eyewear in their local communities.
Research conducted by OneSight prior to the Farafenni pilot indicates that one out of three Gambians has a vision problem that could be corrected with glasses. However, only half are aware they have a problem and know a solution is possible. For those who are aware, access to an eye exam and glasses is extremely limited and cost prohibitive.
"Working together with our Gambian partners, we are on track to make vision care accessible to the entire country by 2015," said Paul Case, OneSight Sr. Manager. "While we continue to evolve the program based on learnings, we are encouraged by the results to date and are confident we have a viable, scalable solution."
According to Case, building local expertise and employment opportunities in trusted locations are key program pillars. "All services including community education, screenings, eye exams, refraction, optical retail and manufacturing services are provided by Gambians who receive training from OneSight's volunteer doctors and optical industry experts," he said.
As OneSight's founding global sponsor, Luxottica is providing corporate funding, donated equipment and significant volunteer support. This year, more than 70 Luxottica employees and doctors are applying their expertise to help OneSight establish the vision centers, central manufacturing lab, supply chain and train Gambian staff.
Industry partners are also contributing equipment, supplies and services. Essilor donated initial lens stock to launch the manufacturing lab and Transitions Optical is the official supplier of photochromic lenses. DHL donated its international services to transport more than 50 pallets (equivalent to full cargo plane) of equipment, fixtures and eyewear inventory. Coburn Technologies, Elder-Jones Construction, Luxottica Optical Manufacturing, Satisloh, Terry Adams, Inc. and Tom Rectenwald Construction are also donating equipment and services to help launch the lab and vision centers.
"This is a great example of industry and community partners coming together to eradicate the global vision care crisis," said Jason Singh, OD, OneSight Executive Director. "Together we are creating solutions that will benefit the people of The Gambia while creating systems to replicate this model in more countries worldwide."