At the end of October, Essilor celebrated the launch of Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck National Eye Center, a key milestone in the Bhutan’s ambition to become the first in the world to eliminate poor vision. As part of the Royal Government of Bhutan and Essilor’s ongoing partnership to sustainably strengthen the country’s vision care infrastructure, we have provided refractive instruments to the hospital to help with the diagnosis and correction of refractive errors.
In December 2018, we signed Letters of Intent with the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Central Monastic Body to address the two greatest barriers to good vision – the lack of access and awareness – through training and capacity building, philanthropic support and raising awareness. Currently, a quarter of Bhutan’s population suffer from uncorrected refractive errors. Much of the population is also at risk of exposure to UVA/UVB rays due to high altitudes.
Another milestone unlocked!
“The opening of the National Eye Center marks another important milestone for Bhutan’s commitment to be the first country to eliminate poor vision. We believe that partnerships among governments, industry players and NGOs are essential in tackling poor vision and Essilor is proud to be a key partner on this ongoing journey for Bhutan,” said Hubert Sagnières, Executive Vice-Chairman of EssilorLuxottica and Chairman of Essilor International.
The opening of the National Eye Center marks another important milestone for Bhutan’s commitment to be the first country to eliminate poor vision. We believe that partnerships among governments, industry players and NGOs are essential in tackling poor vision and Essilor is proud to be a key partner on this ongoing journey for Bhutan.
Sagnières continued: “Last month, alongside the United Nations General Assembly, Essilor, together with our partners, published Eliminating Poor Vision in a Generation. The report is a roadmap which defines the scale of uncorrected poor vision globally and outlines solutions to eliminate it by 2050. We are honored to have Dr. Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan support the report. We hope all those reading the report will be inspired by Bhutan’s journey to take collective action to improve lives by improving sight and end this public health crisis.”
How Essilor is supporting Bhutan’s journey
As a key partner of Bhutan’s journey, we are providing glasses to Bhutan’s Ministry of Health for use in its Bhutan School Sight screening program for all students aged six to eighteen. The program has screened over 150,000 students to date. The screening program for adults is scheduled to begin in 2020 – besides providing glasses to those in need, we will also support the screening events.
We are also bringing our flagship inclusive-business initiative – Eye Mitra™ (Friend of the Eye) – to Bhutan. The program trains women and men to become primary vision care providers and micro-entrepreneurs. It also supports qualified candidates to open their own optical stores in their communities. This is not only sustainably improving access to affordable quality eye care across Bhutan, but also bringing socio-economic value to rural communities. In addition, we are supporting the training of existing government health assistants to do basic visual acuity tests, distribute simple reading glasses and direct patients with refractive errors to eye health practitioners, wherever necessary – all to strengthen the sustainability of vision care services in Bhutan.
You can track the progress of our partnership with Bhutan here.