A few months ago we announced that we would be starting a new funding stream to address visual impairment and eye health in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe it is one of the most cost-effective interventions that can be made and that there is significant opportunity for a funder such as Indigo to make a real contribution. This summary paper we have compiled explains the journey and rationale behind our decision in a little more depth.
Globally, approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of visual impairment. The most common causes of visual impairment and blindness are cataract and uncorrected refractive error (URE). Both conditions have been demonstrated to have a detrimental effect on psychological wellbeing and economic productivity, but in the vast majority of cases the conditions can be easily treated through surgery or glasses. Repeated cost-effectiveness studies have shown that both conditions can be treated safely and at a low cost, while a vast body of medical literature exists showing the safest and most effective ways of treating the conditions. Despite the fact that both conditions can be so easily treated, there are many people around the world who do not have access to the treatments necessary to improve or restore their sight. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, governments and NGOs are working to address this through training healthcare staff, equipping eyecare facilities and providing outreach services. We believe that more can be done with additional funding, so are providing funds to eyecare organisations to address both cataract and URE. We also plan to work with other funders to ensure that efforts to address the problems can be speeded up.