International Centre for Eye Health receives Inaugural Vision Catalyst Fund Eye Health Accelerator Grant
December 11, 2023

The International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) is a proud recipient of an Inaugural Eye Health Accelerator Grant by the Vision Catalyst Fund (VCF).

VCF are a funder for eye health services in lower and middle-income countries who aim to meet the needs of global sight loss in new ways, through innovative financing solutions and health system strengthening.

The VCF has awarded grants totalling £470,000 to ICEH at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Clinton Health Access Initiative, VisionSpring, and RestoringVision. These four recipients emerged from 58 concept notes submitted to VCF.

The funds for these grants were generated using an investment product co-created with P1 Capital, a UK based investment firm, to develop an Eye Health Accelerator Bond. This simple financial product empowers an investor to deploy at least 4% of their 8% return from a bond towards eye health programmes through the VCF. The VCF aims to offer more and larger grants as the investment in the bond grows in the coming year.

ICEH’s grant is a partnership with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania. The grant will scale up a project to train primary health workers in the country to identify and treat eye conditions in children, something that is not currently included for many countries. The project has the potential to screen and treat tens of thousands of children, creating a template for other countries globally to do the same.

Dr Aeesha Malik, lead investigator for the project said: “We are very excited to be working with VCF and our partners to reduce avoidable blindness in children using our innovative integrated child eye health model. With this collaboration will be able to deliver eye care to 10,000 children using new low-cost technology to screen children’s eyes, so that they can receive the treatment they need in time to prevent avoidable blindness. However, we believe this programme can be truly catalytic, and scaled up to over 100 countries globally, ultimately with the potential to impact millions of children, their families and communities.” 

The Chief Executive of VCF, Dr Andrew Cooper, said, “I am excited to introduce the Eye Health Accelerator Grants, an initiative funded by our first financial product made possible by a first investment from the David and Molly Pyott Foundation. These grants are designed to propel scale and foster collaboration within countries. By providing targeted support to promising models, we aspire to catalyse a collaborative ecosystem where innovation flourishes, and the collective effort lights the path towards widespread and sustainable improvements in eye health.”

Other grants awarded as part of the accelerator fund included integrating reading glasses into pensions systems, digital access to eye care for rural communities, and trialling integrated eye care into health systems.

Find out more about ICEH’s Child Eye Health project here.