The goal has been reached two years ahead of the 2020 target date, the bank said in a press release issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
It said it shared the news with its employees, clients and charity partners at a recent event to mark 15 years of Seeing is Believing (SiB). It was in 2011 that the bank committed to raise USD100 million for SiB between 2003 and 2020.
SiB is the bank’s global partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), whose focus is on tackling avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
By funding projects run by international eye health organisations, SiB provides access to affordable and quality eye health services to people in low- and middle-income countries.
The money raised through SiB has reached more than 167 million people through medical interventions, eye examinations, and eye health education and training.
The initiative has funded 184 eye health projects in 37 countries, supported 4.4 million sight-restoring surgeries and trained more than 318,000 health workers.
“Seeing is Believing has changed the lives of millions of individuals and families by providing eye health services that enable many to return to education and work,” says SiB Group General Counsel and Chairman David Fein, adding: “As a result, this has boosted local economies and strengthened communities.”
Avoidable blindness is a key health issue across Standard Chartered’s footprint. Globally, there are an estimated 36 million blind people and a further 217 million people suffering from moderate or severe visual impairment. Yet 80 per cent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
Initially launched in 2003 to fund 28,000 sight-restoring surgeries, SiB has evolved into a leading multi-stakeholder partnership that is supporting comprehensive eye care solutions, strengthening eye health systems and fostering the development of new technologies across 37 countries.
The bank has captured the story of the SiB partnership in a visionary partnership: ‘15 years of Seeing is Believing’. This is a report that highlights how the private sector and NGOs can draw upon their diverse capabilities to improve the lives of millions of people.
The report also summarises key lessons learned that may benefit other companies and NGOs considering similar multi-stakeholder partnerships.
The bank says that, even with the fundraising goal achieved, SiB will continue to fund eye health projects up until the end of 2020. After this point, the bank 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, VCF is an ambitious plan to establish a USD1 billion fund that will provide eye care to all people across the Commonwealth and around the world.
“We are excited about the opportunity to support the development of the Vision Catalyst Fund as it has the potential to mobilise significantly more funding for the eye health sector globally,” says David Fein.
“Working together with new and existing eye health partners and drawing on our experience from SiB, we look forward to being part of this ambitious next chapter in the fight against avoidable blindness,” he notes.
The Seeing is Believing project has also positively touched the lives of thousands of Tanzanians, both adults and children, who have regained their eyesight through the project’s support.
Last year Standard Chartered in Tanzania completed a multi-million-dollar project which covered Mbeya, Rukwa, Tabora, Mwanza, Manyara and Dar es Salaam regions.
Over 360,000 children accessed eye health services at the eye unit level. Over 2,000 children received their eyesight following surgery for cataract operations and others. Over 5,400 children with significant refractive error received spectacles and over 1700 children with low vision received a low vision device and/or specialised refraction.
Additionally, 1,187 health workers at different levels received specialised eye care training and 17 centres were provided with clinical and non-clinical equipment needed to deliver child eye-care services.
The project is expected to benefit 17 million Tanzanian children indirectly through conducive changes in national policies, strengthening of national coordination and promoting child eye health.
Following an impactful execution of the project in Tanzania, the SiB Group has supported an additional project in the country covering Mwanza Region.
The project, which is being run in partnership with Sightsavers International, will run until March 2020 and is expected to benefit over 86,000 people. The bank has pledged USD 1.25 million to this project by March 2020.
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