VSP Global’s ‘We See’ Child Health Project Launches Tomorrow to Provide Eyecare to South Africa

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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—In response to the need for billions of people around the world who lack access to routine eyecare and eyewear, VSP Global set its sights on South Africa, where there are less than 300 optometrists available in the public sector for a population of 41 million. Youth are at a particular disadvantage as it is estimated that six out of 10 children in South Africa with reduced vision can be corrected with glasses, yet only 20 percent of those children needing glasses have them, according to the National Institutes of Health.

To extend its charitable reach internationally, VSP identified partners to develop a sustainable solution including the opening of an eye health clinic at the Soweto Nike Football Centre. The result is the “We See” Child Health Project, which will launch tomorrow and over the next three years, in collaboration with the Brien Holden Vision Institute, will provide approximately 30,000 children with free eyecare and eyewear, donated by Nike Vision.The goal is to reduce the percentage of school children in the Soweto area with uncorrected visual impairment by 90 percent. The project will also fund health promotion and advocacy and establish in-school eye screenings and referral pathways for children whose visual problems need outside care. Other program partners include Optometry Giving Sight and Just Eyewear

“The time we’ve spent in Soweto reinforced the human impact that providing eyeglasses to someone in need can have,” said Claudio Gottardi, president and CEO of Marchon Eyewear, a VSP Global company and another implementing partner on the “We See” Child Health Project. “It was also our goal to establish a long-term relationship and impact in Soweto. I am proud to say we have done that in partnership with the National Education and Health Departments of South Africa and the Brien Holden Vision Institute.”

Visit the VSP blog to follow the progress of the project, learn about the program partners, and see the children who are experiencing clear vision for the first time.