VisionSpring has partnered with international insurer, Allianz Life Insurance Ghana to screen the vision of more than 7000 students, apprentice workers, and staff across 26 institutions of the Ghana TVET Service.
With women 12% more likely to have vision loss compared to men, the project will prioritize women and girls to help bridge this gap.
Launched on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, the project sits within VisionSpring’s ‘See to Learn’ and ‘See to Earn’ programs, providing vision screenings and dispensing eyeglasses to students of all ages and working adults, respectively.
The initiative will span four regions, including Greater Accra, Volta, Ashanti, and Eastern Region.
There is no doubt that the economic development of a nation is heavily dependent on the technical and vocational training of its workforce.
However, this progress is only possible so long as universal access to eye health exists.
In fact, clear vision has a significant impact on the lives of working adults, especially those who use their hands for detailed tasks like dressmakers, weavers, and other visually intensive tasks.
A randomized controlled trial in 2018 confirmed this finding, with a simple pair of reading glasses boosting the productivity levels of tea pickers in India by 22% on average.
Eyeglasses are one of the most underutilized, low-cost, high-impact tools available to boost economic and social outcomes for individuals vulnerable to poverty.
According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people worldwide do not have access to the eyeglasses required to help them see clearly.
In Ghana, one in four people require a basic pair of eyeglasses, however the majority of these people fall into low-income economic categories, unable to afford the eyeglasses they need to see clearly.
It is for this reason that Allianz Life Insurance Ghana is partnering with VisionSpring on this €30,000 project. According to Gideon Attaraire, CEO of Allianz Life Insurance Ghana, Allianz was hugely inspired by “the power a simple pair of eyeglasses has, and the role fixing blurry vision plays in building healthy and prosperous communities” to join the initiative.
Deputy Director General of Ghana TVET Service, David Prah could not hide his excitement at the opportunity offered to his students and workers to help improve their productivity.
“Technical and Vocational Education Training is the pivot of every country’s development. VisionSpring and Allianz have collaborated with Ghana TVET Service to screen and provide eyeglasses for reading so our TVET practitioners can focus clearly on their work,” he said.
He further added that the Ghana TVET Service will continue to work with the program implementers “so our students have the clear vision required to complete their tasks”.
He emphasized the importance of clear vision to TVET professionals saying “whether you are a mechanical engineer, auto mechanic, caterer or a fashion designer, you need good eyesight to be able to execute your work to the perfection that it requires”.
Students in particular were appreciative of the initiative.
One fashion student commented; “I do a lot of sewing at night and it was really straining to the eye. This cooperation between Allianz and VisionSpring for TVET students will do a lot of good for us. It’s a lot of stress trying to work at night and so I am thankful to Allianz and VisionSpring for making Ghana a better place for TVET students.”
Unpicking the project’s focus on gender equity, Global Vice President of Programs at VisionSpring, Anne Coolen said; “Statistics from our previous work in Ghana revealed that about 10-15% of young adults suffer from refractive error. In addition, research has unequivocally demonstrated that women and girls have a higher incidence of myopia (which is distance vision impairment) compared to males, highlighting the urgent need to address this critical healthcare issue among young women.”
In line with this thinking, for the first time in VisionSpring’s history in Ghana, the partnership aims to screen 60% women.
90 students and workers out of the 200 screened, received free eyeglasses on the first day of the exercise, which came off at the headquarters of the Ghana TVET Service.
The next exercise comes off on 25th September 2023 with the screening of about 150 students and workers of Perfect Hands Artisans Association in Kasoa in the Central Region.
Other beneficiaries of the program include Wood Workers Association, Ghana National Association of Tailors and Dressmakers, Accra Girls Vocational Institute and the Hair Plater and Braider Association.
VisionSpring first began working in Ghana in 2017. By the time this project is completed, more than 175,000 Ghanaians will have benefitted and received the eyeglasses they need to see clearly from VisionSpring, unlocking more than 430 million cedis in income earning potential.
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