The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has launched the Vision Catalyst Fund in an attempt to raise $1bn (approximately £720m) to bring “eye care to all” in Commonwealth countries.
According to the trust, James Chen the founder of international eye-care initiative Clearly, has donated $10m to the fund, becoming its first funder. The trust aims to develop the fund and raise the $1bn over the next two years from private investors and philanthropists.
Once operational, the fund 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”.
The trust said the fund “aims help governments to prioritise vision and to tackle avoidable blindness and poor eyesight” which will, in turn “transform the lives of millions of people”.
According to the Trust, 85 million people across the Commonwealth “are blind or have poor vision” and, as the world’s population grows and ages “these numbers are set to grow significantly”.
Research by the trust shows that women and girls are “disproportionately affected” by preventable eye diseases.
Astrid Bonfield, chief executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, said: “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.”