22 October 2022: Five major civil society partners combine their expertise to form the South African Eyecare Coalition, an umbrella body driving meaningful eye health, who will work together to provide eye tests and spectacles for 500 community members in Ngwelezane, rural Northern KwaZulu-Natal during October, World Sight Month 2022.

“South African Eyecare Coalition is dedicated to promoting eye health and increasing accessibility of services to millions of under-served South Africans by advocating for eye health at the highest levels.The Coalition aims to provide a scalable, cost-effective approach to eye health, including the delivery of free, high-quality or low-cost eye care and vision services across the country, with a particular emphasis on children and marginalised communities’” explained Coalition spokesperson, Prof. Kovin Naidoo from OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation.

 “A formal coalition of this magnitude has been created to address the overwhelming eye care needs across the country. This process once again reminds us that working together makes all participants stronger and more effective,” he continued.  “The intention is for there to be many more of these type of outreach initiatives to bring eyecare to needy communities going forward,” he said.

October is traditionally World Sight Month which reinforces awareness about the importance of eye health. Every person on the planet will experience an eye health issue at some point in their lives, but the reality is that more than a billion people do not have access to eye care services to correct, treat or prevent vision loss.

To bridge the gap and celebrate the South African Eye Care Coalition’s theme for this year, The Right to See, as we believe that good vision is a basic human right. Optometrists from around KwaZulu-Natal will take much-needed eye health services to the Ngwelezane community. People who require spectacles will receive them free of charge during a daylong outreach initiative at Nongweleza High School on Saturday 22 October.

“We have been liaising with the Ngwelezane Community Tribal Council, working together with community leaders to identify the most urgent eye care cases for us to attend to,” says Naidoo.

The five founding members of the Coalition are African Eye Institute:an Africa-wide, non-profit development organisation. Through generous donations and partnerships, AEI is able to support the delivery of free, quality eye health services. SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) a non-profit aero-medical rescue organisation with more than 55 years of expertise in the aero-medical sector. The AMS is the only aero-medical operator in Southern Africa which offers a complete package of air ambulance, health outreach and rescue services. IAPB is the overarching alliance for the global eye health sector, with more than 150 organisations in over 100 countries working together for a world where everyone has universal access to eye care.  OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation: believes in a world where everyone can see more and be more, focusing on the 2.7 billion people who lack vision correction. OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation leverages an innovative approach to philanthropy, partnerships and raising awareness to create sustainable access to vision care. St. John who operates 12 Eye Care Centres across South Africa and has been providing eye care services to the public for over 70 years by providing professional comprehensive eye testing and quality eyewear at affordable prices, and

The coalition will work with government, civil society, professionals, and other role players to support the expansion of eyecare service both at the service delivery as well as awareness level.

“We look forward to welcoming more partners to the coalition,” said Prof. Kovin Naidoo.

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