Pala and Vision Aid Overseas launch campaign to fund a new vision centre in Sierra Leone

The charity highlighted “huge gaps” between the numbers of eye care professionals and demand in the country

person in Sierra Leone

Independent sustainable eyewear company, Pala, has teamed up with Vision Aid Overseas to support the creation of a new vision centre in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is ranked 182 of 189 on the UN’s Human Development Index ranking. Vision Aid Overseas has highlighted that there are “huge gaps in both the numbers of and the distribution of eye care staff in Sierra Leone,” suggesting that there are just five qualified optometrists amongst a population of seven million people.

Marking National Eyewear Day (6 June), Pala and Vision Aid Overseas launched a campaign to support fundraising for the new vision centre.

The centre would be based in a rural community in the northern province of the country, where Vision Aid Overseas has determined “the need is greatest.”

Vision centres act as a hub for eye health professionals to train and manage cases, as well as a walk-in for local communities and a referral centre.

In establishing the new site, Vision Aid Overseas will secure partners to provide training, education and outreach to ensure the centre remains a sustainable part of the community.

Established in 2016 to fund eye care projects in Africa, every pair of Pala sunglasses supports grants to Vision Aid Overseas, its charity partner.

From 2022, Pala will be working with the charity to build and equip the new centre.

Commenting on the project, John Pritchard, founder of Pala, said: “This is such an important campaign for Pala, re-enforcing our mission to create lasting change in access to eye care across Africa.”

Pala noted that selling more than 5000 pairs of sunglasses will fund and equip the new centre. Donations can also be made directly to the charity.

Highlighting the importance of a vision centre for providing eye care and detecting eye problems early “to preserve sight,” Vision Aid Overseas commented: “In 2020 in Sierra Leone, there were an estimated 820,000 people with some form of vision loss. We don’t accept this, and together we won’t leave anyone behind.”

Former fundraising projects by Pala for Vision Aid Overseas have supported the delivery of eye care programmes such as School Eye Screening in Ethiopia, and funded the establishment of Chinsali Vision Centre in Muchinga province.