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Vision for a Nation

Vision for a Nation was set up and registered as a UK charity in 2011. The ambition of Vision for a Nation (VFAN) was to develop domain expertise on the issue of vision correction for the developing world and to develop innovative solutions to overcome the barriers to delivering eye care. Rwanda was chosen as the first programme country.

In 2012, Rwanda had a severe shortage of eye care specialists, with only eight ophthalmologists and four registered optometrists for a population of 11.8 million. These specialists primarily operated at province and district levels, which meant there was little or no possibility of rural communities receiving eye care services. Patients attending health centres with eye or vision complaints were immediately referred to district hospitals – which often lacked an eye specialist – to seek further treatment.

By training over 2,700 nurses in local communities on how to deliver an eye test – prescribing glasses and, where required referring patients to an optometrist – in just over five years, VFAN established a nationwide service, fully integrated into the health system and national insurance scheme, and financially self-sustaining. No other emerging nation has ever come close to achieving universal, local eye care.

The services were made accessible to all 11.8 million people in Rwanda through the national network of 502 health centres that provide primary health care to the general population. Crucially, the primary eye care services were integrated into Rwanda’s national health system. This allowed Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to assume full responsibility for managing the services in January 2018.

In acknowledgement of this success, VFAN was awarded the top prize in the coveted International Aid and Development category at the 2016 UK Charity Awards – the longest-running and most prestigious awards in the sector.

In 2022, Vision For A Nation transferred its programmes, knowledge and expertise to Vision Action.