Launch of Pioneering Research into Rwanda’s National Eye Care Services

Vision for a Nation Foundation, a registered charity in the United Kingdom, has contracted with the prestigious London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to conduct a major impact evaluation of Rwanda’s national eye care services. This first-of-its-kind study will focus on the primary eye care services that are now provided at every one of Rwanda’s 502 health centres as a result of the charity’s support. The research is being funded by UBS Optimus Foundation with results to be published in 2017 and 2018.

Vision for a Nation has been working with the Rwandan Ministry of Health since 2012 on a ground-breaking programme to make primary eye care accessible and affordable to all of the country’s 10.5 million people (over 1 million Rwandans are estimated to suffer from refractive error). The research will evaluate the programme’s achievements and effectiveness, and its impact on the lives of those receiving primary eye care in Rwanda. Nearly 550,000 people have already been screened across the country just in two years.

The research will be led by Dr Jennifer Yip through the International Centre for Eye Health – one of the world’s leading eye health and disability research organisations – at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Dr Yip, comments, “Globally, over 250 million people are visually impaired, of which 80% is avoidable. Improving access to primary eye care is key to universal eye health and prevention of avoidable blindness. This evaluation will provide much needed evidence to guide further developments in primary eye care and reduce the global burden of poor vision.”

Tom Rosewall, Vision for a Nation’s CEO, comments, “With our support, Rwanda has become the first emerging nation to provide all of its citizens with local and affordable eye care. With the financial support of the UBS Optimus Foundation, one of the world’s leading public health research institutions will now conduct the first impact evaluation of its kind. This will provide important new data on the effectiveness of the programme and inform others of the potential benefits of affordable and locally accessible eye care for their people and nations”.