The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has begun work on a global fund worth $1 billion to “bring eye care to all people in the Commonwealth and around the world”.
The $1bn Vision Catalyst Fund will be developed over the next two years with civil society, public and private sector organisations with expertise in eye health.
It will seek to accelerate systems change and expand universal eye health services led by governments, to provide sustainable and efficient long term solutions for eye health to entire populations in Commonwealth countries and across the globe.
Philanthropist James Chen, Founder of Clearly, has committed $10 million to the fund. He said he was delighted to be its first funder. He commented: “The issue of poor vision is unique in terms of the number of people affected, the simplicity of the solution which in most cases is a pair of glasses, and high returns for both improving people’s lives and the local economy. I am prepared to meet anyone who is interested in matching my contribution and discuss why this issue can no longer be forgotten.”
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust was established in 2012 by Commonwealth Heads of Government to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 60-year contribution to the Commonwealth. Its programmes work towards ending avoidable blindness and to empower a new generation of young leaders.
85 million people in the Commonwealth today are blind or have very poor vision. Globally, 2.5 billion people lack access to glasses, 1.1 billion of whom need glasses to improve their near vision. As the world’s population grows and ages, these numbers are set to grow significantly.
Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, said of the Vision Catalyst Fund: “I am delighted that a diverse range of partners are coming together to help develop and progress this exciting and ambitious initiative with the potential to create new approaches to funding eye health.
“We have a big job ahead of us to shape the Fund, attract investors and ensure collaboration with governments to meet the needs of millions of people yet to be reached. But we have the solutions for universal eye health. We know they work. We now have an historic opportunity to work in partnership and create a fund that can bring sight to entire populations across the Commonwealth and the world.”
The news of the $ 1 billion Vision Catalyst Fund comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London and Windsor in April. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is working with other leading eye health agencies under the “Vision for the Commonwealth” banner to call on Commonwealth leaders to bring vision to everyone, everywhere and for each country to commit to taking one significant action by 2020 towards that goal.
Other partners involved include Standard Chartered’s Seeing is Believing programme, UBS Philanthropy Services UK, opthalmic optics specialists Essilor International, Peek Vison, Sightsavers, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
- Read Clearly by James Chen
- Global eye care campaign offers £250k seed funding for the best ideas (6 April 2016)