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Seeing is Believing launches Phase 3 Innovation Fund

Published: 25.07.2017

Peter Scanlon/ Image Courtesy: Standard Chartered

Press Release 24 July 2017, London – Standard Chartered’s Seeing is Believing programme, a collaboration between the bank and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), has launched the third phase of its Innovation Fund, expanding four existing projects and awarding grants to six new projects.

Launched in 2013, the fund encourages innovators to develop pioneering ideas that have the potential to significantly impact how eye care is delivered in low and middle income countries.

The first two phases have funded landmark projects including developing smartphone technology to enable eye screening in remote locations in Kenya and India; building platforms for high quality remote online training in Africa; developing portable, low cost equipment for cataract surgery and manufacturing realistic eye models to enable surgical training in Tanzania.

In this next phase we have awarded grants totalling over USD1million, including USD550,000 to six new projects to begin tackling a diverse range of issues associated with avoidable blindness.

New projects

These projects are:

  • International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH): empowering primary health workers In East Africa to screen for congenital cataract and retinoblastoma by making red reflex screening technically feasible for the non-specialist;
  • The Fred Hollows Foundation: introducing eye health services to the manufacturing sector in Vietnam to improve eye health and working conditions for female factory workers;
  • Peek Vision Foundation: developing a portable, low cost camera to screen for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP);
  • John Hopkins University: developing and pilot testing an image capture and processing system (ICAPS) for trachoma control;
  • Aurolab: setting up two training centres in India to enhance doctors’ surgical skills in performing phacoemulsification surgery to treat cataract;
  • The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare: creating a sustainability toolkit for healthcare to assess and reduce the carbon footprint of cataract surgery.

Scaling up

Three of the projects from the fund’s first and second phases will now receive USD370,000 to allow them to expand the scope of their work, either by continuing their research or scaling up their operations.

These projects are:

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: creating an online application to support practical skills training in retinal laser treatment;
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Lifeline Express: developing online training to improve diabetic retinopathy screening and practical laser treatment skills training in China;
  • The Fred Hollows Foundation: developing a mobile app which enables hospital administrators across China to record and analyse their surgical results, and benchmark these against those of other hospitals to improve standards of care;
  •  An additional project, led by Sightsavers and researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will be funded through a special USD100,000 donation by the Bank. This project builds upon a project funded in the first phase of the Innovation Fund to scale up transcleral cyclodiode laser treatment as a procedure of choice for glaucoma in Nigeria. This special donation is made in addition to the Bank’s USD100 million funding commitment to Seeing is Believing, to recognise the contribution of Sir John Peace, Standard Chartered Bank’s former Chairman, who stepped down from the role last year.

Breaking down barriers

SiB logoSir John Peace, Former Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank said, “I was delighted to select the Seeing is Believing Innovation Fund, and specifically this transformational project, to receive this donation in my honour. I am excited about the long-term potential impact it aims to have on the lives of glaucoma patients in Africa.”

Peter Ackland, CEO of IAPB, said, “This fund, and the grants that it provides, is at the forefront of breaking down the barriers that are standing in the way of eliminating avoidable blindness. The need for quality eye-care is most prevalent in remote, low-income locations. The Innovation Fund has allowed people and groups to approach that problem in unique and creative ways, and already we’ve made several breakthroughs that could revolutionise eye-care across the globe.”

Peter Scanlon, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Diabetes is still the most frequent cause of loss of vision and blindness in the world’s working-age population.

“The Innovation Fund has supported three inter-linked projects that are significantly helping to address this, from our first pilot, which allowed us to provide web-based professional education in low-income countries in different languages, to this latest phase where we will provide eye doctors with essential education and training in laser treatment for diabetic eye disease.”