Memorandum of Agreement Signed for Haiti School of Optometry

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(L to R) Dr. David McPhillips (VOSH), UEH Recteur Mr. Fritz Deshommes and UEH Dean of Medicine, Dr. Jean Claude Cadet signing the MOA on July 12, 2017.

DENVER—This week, a memorandum of agreement has been signed to establish the first ever School of Optometry in Haiti. The school is a collaboration between l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti (UEH), Brien Holden Vision Institute, Optometry Giving Sight, VOSH International and Charity Vision  with support from University of Montreal. The signatories hope that the first students will commence their studies in October.

“This is a great moment in the development of eye health in Haiti,” said Dr. Jean Claude Cadet, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy at UEH, which is the lead local implementing partner for the project. “We are grateful to our international partners for helping us to realize our vision of establishing optometry as a profession in Haiti in order to improve access to primary eyecare for the millions of people in need.”

There are currently only three optometrists and 58 ophthalmologists to serve Haiti's population of 10 million people. These are predominantly located in the capital, making it difficult for the majority of people to access primary eyecare services. After implementing a 5-year Bachelor of Vision Science degree, the project will seek to graduate 16 optometrists per year.

“There is enormous goodwill toward Haiti from the North American optometric profession and industry,” said Clive Miller, CEO of Optometry Giving Sight, which has mobilized the financial support for the program. “We have been inspired by the incredible support we have received from all our donors and sponsors, and especially Vision Source in the USA and Essilor in Canada. In addition to their financial support, there is a strong desire to contribute knowledge and skills to help ensure that the students have access to the best resources and that future graduates have the support and skills they need to run successful clinics and practices.”

The signatories would also like to acknowledge the support of the National Council for the Prevention of Blindness (CNPC), the Port au Prince Chapter of Lions and Digicel. Funding is still needed for the School. For further information please contact Optometry Giving Sight at usa@givingsight.org.