At the end of 2020, EssilorLuxottica announced a USD $1 million partnership between MetLife Foundation and EssilorLuxottica’s social impact fund – Vision For Life™ – to create sustainable livelihoods and improve access to vision care among rural communities in Bangladesh by training over 1,000 new primary vision care providers by 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread economic distress in Bangladesh, pushing 16.4 million people under the poverty line. Additionally, Bangladesh ranks among the top ten countries in the world with the largest populations of people suffering from uncorrected poor vision – with 45% of the population affected – largely due to a lack of trained eye health professionals. The strategic two-year initiative aims to address this lack by accelerating the expansion of the Eye Mitro programme that was launched in Bangladesh in 2017.
The partnership adopted a pooled funding approach, which demonstrates an innovative philanthropic model whereby two foundations with different development agendas (vision care and financial health) have come together to scale and accelerate impact during times of need.
“The pandemic has demonstrated that a coordinated philanthropic response is critical to effectively align our resources towards the most vulnerable people in the communities. Since its launch in 2017, the vision care skills training program in Bangladesh has brought tremendous value to underserved communities by not only nurturing primary vision care providers to offer much-needed access to vision care but also helping them build sustainable livelihoods for themselves. That is why we are excited to partner with MetLife Foundation and TMSS to continue expanding this program in Bangladesh,” said Anurag Hans, Head of Mission, EssilorLuxottica.
Since the launch of the partnership, 4 new vision training centres have been set up in the cities of Khulna, Chattogram, Jessore, and Cumilla, which will drive the acceleration of PVCP training to reach the target of 1,000 new primary vision care providers by end 2022, increasing access to vision care for over 20 million people in Bangladesh. 51 youths have been trained so far and 75 youths are currently undergoing training.