Giving Compass' Take:
- Zach Slobig spotlights EYElliance as they work to change the conditions that prevent so many people in poverty from accessing eyeglasses.
- What lessons can we take away from EYElliance's collaboration with the Liberian Ministries of Health and Education to address eye health issues?
- Read about free eyeglasses boosting test scores in Baltimore.
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Imagine a life fundamentally changed by a $1 investment. For over 800 million people around the world, there’s a critical tool to sustain their livelihood that remains out of reach: a pair of non-prescription reading glasses.
It’s a simple, profound intervention far too often overlooked. For adults experiencing near vision loss in low-resource settings, eyeglasses are a powerful economic and productivity intervention—farmers can discern between their seeds for planting and garment workers can better thread needles. Research reveals that correcting near vision loss with a pair of reading glasses increases productivity by 21.7 percent, and in workers over the age of 50 that gain increases up to 31.6 percent. But across sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in remote communities, there is very little access to this life-changing product.
EYElliance tackles this problem as a systems orchestrator—driving mutually reinforcing global and national scale strategies to eradicate this very solvable problem. In this ongoing series, we’ve looked at the various ways in which EYElliance works to change the status quo by shifting the conditions that hold this problem in place. Recognizing that promising solutions already exist, they focus on engaging and growing the ecosystem that can deploy these solutions at scale.
We explored their work with the Liberian Ministries of Health and Education integrating eye health into the national public education system and how it works to transform the inclusive optical sector—serving low and middle-income customers—into the next impact industry similar to off grid solar.
In this piece, we’ll return to Liberia where it has partnered with the Ministry of Health to incorporate eye health into the suite of services provided through its National Community Health Assistant program—the frontline Community Health Workers who provide care in rural and remote communities.
Twenty years ago, Jordan Kassalow, co-Founder of EYElliance, pioneered an approach of training Community Health Workers to perform vision screening and dispense reading glasses in remote and low-resource settings through VisionSpring and BRAC. With EYElliance’s system orchestration approach and its intent to solve the vision gap problem at scale, Liberia has proven to be an evidence laboratory—a proximate learning journey—for the hypothesis that national governments can fluidly embed this intervention into the services of frontline health workers.
Read the full article about eye health in Liberia by Zach Slobig at Skoll.