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Flavia Arato coordinates Light for the World’s Child Eye Health programme with passion, professionalism and attentiveness.
In her five years with Light for the World she has built strong skills in eye health programming, management and advocacy, working with diverse teams.
She would be the first to mention the power of learning and mentoring and how she gained invaluable insights from mentors such as Dr Amir Bedri Kello, Wolfgang Gindorfer, Dr Geoffrey Wabulembo and Ronnie Graham.
Flavia is keen to pass her knowledge on to others and make sure to give recognition and appreciation to colleagues and partners. These qualities make her a natural leader. She also succeeds in galvanising support from partners and international foundations to help make crucial healthcare initiatives happen.
In 2019, she took the lead in setting up Light for the World’s first Child and School Eye Health programme, coordinating a team of 25 eye health specialists across four countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. This child-centred programme was built in close collaboration with the national Ministries of Health and Education to guarantee sustainability and strong official backing.
To prepare, she attended intensive training in Uganda in the context of Light for the World’s National Intervention on Uncorrected Refractive Errors (NIURE).
Significant milestones of this programme under Flavia’s leadership include:
– the inclusion of disaggregated data on child age and type of disability in the national Health Management System of Mozambique;
– the integration of a module on Child Eye Health in the Ugandan teacher training curriculum;
– the inclusion of Child Eye Health in the National Eye Health Strategic Plan 2021-2025 of Burkina Faso;
– the setup, in partnership with the NGO Ocularis, of a Postgraduate in Paediatric Optometry, first of its kind in Mozambique and the region; and
– the creation of clear monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track progress of the programme.
By coordinating this comprehensive programme, Flavia has the ambition of bringing long-term improvements to the children of the four countries. “Ten years from now, every child in need of eyecare treatment will have access to such services,” she explains her vision for the programme.
Her leadership skills already showed through before Flavia took the lead of the Child Eye Health programme. Coordinating the Burkina Faso programme alongside Country Director Elie Bagbila and his team, she directly contributed to the success of Light for the World’s Comprehensive Eye Health programme. She closely worked with the Ministry of Health on the first Eye Health Human Resources Plan in the country and on the Islamic Development Bank Action Plan to Fight Avoidable Blindness 2019-2023. And she supported the establishment of the first School Eye Health project in Burkina Faso Centre Ouest.
Flavia is a charismatic leader who is able to work with people and organisations from all walks of life, from grassroots to global and private, public donors and foundations. Her commitment and hard-work has led to increased quality in programmes and an increase in funding.
“In a world marked by global inequality, I feel proud and grateful to work in a sector that is trying to make this planet a better place.
Children need good eyesight to develop to their full potential and, to ensure the best quality of life for them. It is our responsibility to continue working hard to preserve their future.
I fully believe that through our Child Eye Health programme we can make a difference in the life of millions of children in Sub-Saharan Africa!”
– Flavia Arato