By Rafiq Vayani
KARACHI: Every year, on the second Thursday of October, World Sight Day is celebrated to raise awareness for the 36 million people who are blind and an additional 217 million people suffering from moderate or severe visual impairment around the world. Therefore, we launched Seeing is Believing in 2003 to tackle avoidable blindness.
80 per cent of the blindness and vision loss are curable or preventable. That means four out of five of the visually impaired lose their sight needlessly. In September, Standard Chartered announced that it had reached the goal it set in 2011 to raise USD100 million for the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment. The goal has been reached two years ahead of the Bank’s 2020 target date.
The journey in Pakistan is truly inspiring, impacting over 12 million beneficiaries. The Bank has helped conduct over 500,000 sight restoring surgeries, trained over 60,000 lady health workers and screened over 1.5million children for refractive errors. The Bank also has 25 visually impaired employees who are a critical part of its workforce.
Standard Chartered Pakistan, Chief Executive Officer, Shazad Dada said: “In Pakistan, we have come a long way in the Seeing is Believing journey. We started by simply helping restore people’s eyesight by sponsoring cataract surgeries and training lady healthcare workers. This progressed to taking up complex initiatives like the current Diabetic Retinopathy project across numerous districts in the country. We are proud that as a result of our Seeing is Believing programme, we have helped reduce the prevalence of cataract blindness by 20per cent in Pakistan.”