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New Public-Private-Partnership To Transform State Of Eye Health In Malawi

By Essilor News


The Brien Holden Vision Institute, a global nonprofit aimed at eliminating avoidable blindness, and Essilor, the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company, are joining forces with the Malawi Ministry of Health to improve access to affordable eye care in Malawi.

Inaugurated yesterday at the launch of its first Vision Center in Lilongwe, A Sustainable Vision Care Model Project aims to transform the state of eye health in Malawi by strengthening the delivery of eye care services across the country. The Brien Holden Vision Institute and Essilor are supporting this comprehensive project whose core focus is to develop existing government eye health infrastructure and provide accessible, affordable and quality eye care to rural Malawians by establishing over 50 vision centres within public hospitals by 2019. The project scope also covers human resources development, outreach and health promotion as well as research and advocacy.

“Ninety percent of the Malawian population lives in rural areas, with 55% estimated to be living below the poverty line,” said Professor Kovin Naidoo, Deputy CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. “This means that private eye care is out of the reach of the majority of the population.”

A significant proportion of people in Malawi are affected by visually disabling refractive errors, yet there are only 13 optometrists available in the public sector to serve a population of nearly 17 million people, restricting eye care service to surgical and emergency management of eye diseases.

“Early detection and the appropriate visual correction would make life more comfortable for millions of Malawians, but refractive services are not accessible in most rural areas due to a lack of systems, eye care personnel and affordable spectacles,” said the professor. “Private and public partnerships are vital if we are to change the game. Without partners like Essilor, sustainable eye care in Malawi would be but a dream. We hope that the model we have conceived together will be able to be replicated in other countries with similar eye health barriers.”

“This is the first time that a public-private-partnership has been created at national level on the African continent to create a sustainable vision care model that aims to serve millions of people who suffer from uncorrected poor vision,” said Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, Chief Corporate Mission Officer, Essilor International. “After successfully implementing several programs across India, China, Brazil and Mexico, we are very proud that our inclusive business division 2.5 New Vision  Generation  can  now  bring  its  expertise  and  quality  affordable  eyecare  products  to support the transformation of the Malawi vision care landscape.”

Contributing to building sustainable vision care infrastructure in developing countries is a key component in Essilor’s mission to improve lives by improving sight. The Group estimates that over 500 million people in Africa need vision correction but do not have it.

“Through this initiative, that should help bring good vision to over 200,000 Malawians, Essilor expects to gain valuable insights into the best practices for capacity-building in Africa and to lay the foundations to expand our future reach in Malawi and beyond,” said Bhuvaraghan. 

The Vision Centers will be integrated into existing government health facilities to ensure their sustainability and will be directly managed by the Malawi Ministry of Health who will employ the required optometrists and optometry technicians.

In addition to supporting the establishment of Vision Centres by providing the start-up equipment required for comprehensive refractive error services, the project will contribute to the development of qualified and skilled personnel to deliver high quality eye care (mandatory Continuous Professional Development programmes, mentorship programmes, establishment of an optometry regulatory body, etc.). Community outreach programmes will also focus on providing health promotion activities and materials to schools, communities, clinics, hospitals and other high volume areas to educate the public on the importance of eye health and regular eye examinations.

About Essilor
The world's leading ophthalmic optics company, Essilor designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. Its mission is to improve lives by improving sight. To fulfill it, Essilor allocates more than
€150  million  to  research  and  innovation  every  year,  in  a  commitment  to  continuously  bringing  new,  more  effective products to market. Its flagship brands are Varilux®, Crizal®, Transitions®, Definity®, Xperio®, Optifog™, Foster Grant®, Bolon® and Costa®. It also develops and markets equipment, instruments and services for eyecare professionals.
Essilor reported consolidated revenue of nearly €5.7 billion in 2014 and employs 58,000 people. It markets its products in more than 100 countries and has 33 plants, 490 prescription  laboratories and edging facilities, as well as several research and development centers around the world. For more information, please visit
The Essilor share trades on the NYSE Euronext Paris market and is included in the Euro Stoxx 50 and CAC 40 indices. Codes and symbols: ISIN: FR0000121667; Reuters: ESSI.PA; Bloomberg: EI:FP.

About Brien Holden Vision Institute
Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation (formerly the International Centre for Eyecare Education) is a global non-profit, non-governmental organisation and the public health division of Brien Holden Vision Institute. In the last fourteen years, the Institute has delivered sustainable eye care services, education and training programs in 54 countries. The Institute is focused on the elimination of uncorrected vision impairment and avoidable blindness by developing eye care solutions within communities in most need, thereby improving opportunities in education, employment and quality of life. The public health division of the Institute is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Optometry Giving Sight. Please visit for more information.


Media Contact Information

Lucia Dumas - Corporate Communications
Maïlis Thiercelin – Corporate Media Relations
Tel.: + 33 (0)1 49 77 45 02

Laura Viscovich – Corporate Mission
Tel.: + 65 6589 9356

Brien Holden Vision Institute
Mrs Hilda Kazembe - Project Manager  
Tel: +265 157 8210

Mrs P Nichols - Africa Regional Director
Tel: +2731 2023811