We work with a range of partners to help us meet our objectives of eliminating avoidable blindness, helping blind people to live independently and getting equality for people with disabilities.
The Foundation was created in 1944 by Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Between 1985 and 2015, $130 million of Foundation funding has been given to their safeguarding vision programmes. The Foundation’s current support for vision programmes focuses on blinding trachoma and cataract, two common forms of avoidable blindness.
Two grants have been awarded to Sightsavers by the Foundation to assist the governments of Mali and Tanzania in the elimination of blinding trachoma across seven regions. The funding has been used to deal with a backlog of trichiasis trachomatous (TT) cases – where eyelashes have turned inward and scrape the surface of the eye, requiring urgent surgery to prevent blindness.
We work in partnership with the ministries of health and with national coordinating partners, The Carter Center and Helen Keller International, on these grants. The Tanzania grant is part of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative in Africa.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK government’s effort to fight global poverty. It works with governments of developing countries as well as charities, businesses and international bodies, including the World Bank, UN agencies and the European Commission.
Our relationship with the Department (we are a recipient of its Programme Partnership Arrangement) goes beyond funding – we liaise with its staff from desk officer to Ministerial level on a range of issues of mutual interest. These include development issues like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), neglected tropical diseases, data, universal health coverage, health systems and policy, social inclusion, education and multilateral engagement.
We’ve also benefited from the Department’s UK Aid Match fund, which matches public donations to appeals for development activities focused on poverty reduction in developing countries. Most recently, the Department for International Development matched donations to our Million Miracles fundraising appeal in the three months after it launched – resulting in the Aid Match programme doubling the £5 million raised by Sightsavers supporters.
The European Union is the largest donor in the world. Neven Mimica (EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development) describing the EU’s role in international development, said: “The EU will continue to play a leading role in making sure that we agree on an ambitious, transformative and universal agenda that delivers poverty eradication and sustainable development for all, backed with adequate and credible means of implementation.”
In Europe, Sightsavers engages with the EU through its membership of the European NGO Confederation of Relief and Development (CONCORD). CONCORD regularly holds discussions with EU institutions, to ensure the EU and member states are fully committed to implementing policies in developing countries that aim to address the causes of poverty and conflict, and promote sustainable economic and social development.
In Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, Sightsavers regularly engages with European Union delegations on issues including health systems, eye health, education, social inclusion and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The European Union supports a number of Sightsavers initiatives including a multi-million pound project to combat high levels of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in four Caribbean countries.
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust raises funds to transform people’s lives across the Commonwealth*, as a lasting tribute to The Queen.
The Trust has joined the global movement to end avoidable blindness by 2020 (Vision2020), focusing on combatting three blinding diseases that affect people across the Commonwealth: blinding trachoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity.
Sightsavers is working with the Trust to ensure that investment to tackle avoidable blindness will mean millions of people across the poorest Commonwealth countries will not only keep their sight or have it restored, but enjoy increased prosperity and a better quality of life.
The Right Honourable Sir John Major KG CH, Chairman of the board of trustees of the Trust, said: “The purpose of the Trust is to support charitable projects that will enrich the lives and opportunities of all the citizens of the Commonwealth – across generations and geographical boundaries – in order to provide a lasting legacy to Her Majesty The Queen.”
*Sightsavers was formerly known as The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind and Her Majesty The Queen has been our patron since 1952.
In November 2014 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a five year grant (2014-2019) of nearly $5 million (US dollars) to Sightsavers (and The Task Force for Global Health, acting as a sub-grantee), for the running of a support centre for Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases collective.
Uniting to Combat NTDs is a collective of invested, interested and dedicated partners that work together to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2020 goals for 10 neglected tropical diseases as set out in the London Declaration. The work of the collective complements WHO’s direct collaboration with endemic countries and builds on the ongoing work of several disease-specific partnerships.
The primary function of the support centre is to assist the key stakeholder groups with coordination, communication, reporting, advocacy, and logistics for meetings. This includes: supporting the production of an annual scorecard and report on progress; facilitating the business of the stakeholders’ working group; supporting the four working groups of Uniting to Combat NTDs; maintaining the visibility and effectiveness of the collective’s work and promoting its advocacy and resource mobilisation efforts.
Sightsavers has been a recipient of Standard Chartered’s Seeing is Believing initiative since it launched in 2003 to prevent, treat and cure blindness around the world.
Standard Chartered has partnered with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and leading international eye care non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to improve access to eye care in communities that need it most. The Bank set itself an ambitious target to raise $100 million (US dollars) by 2020. As of December 2014, more than USD80 million had been raised: enough to reach more than 78 million people, fund 3.4 million cataract operations, train 173,306 health workers, support 98 eye health projects and distribute 776,200 pairs of glasses.
Standard Chartered is committed to eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. By taking a long term approach and collaborating with leading eye care organisations and charities, the Bank supports the development of sustainable eye care services in areas of poverty and high need.
Helen Keller International is a US-based international development organisation with a long and distinguished history in preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition.
Founded in 1915, HKI works in many of the same countries as Sightsavers in Africa and Asia, and shares our vision of a world free from avoidable blindness. We have worked together frequently over the years – as well as collaborating directly on delivering health interventions in developing countries, we engage in joint advocacy with a particular focus on the UK, the US and the European Union.
Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper says of the partnership: “We have worked closely with HKI for many years, and I am very pleased that we have now strengthened and formalised this. There is much to be done, especially with neglected tropical diseases now being recognised as a major issue in developing countries, and increasing levels of collaboration between like-minded partners is definitely the way forward.”
The Fred Hollows Foundation was founded in 1992, inspired by the work of the late Professor Fred Hollows (1929–1993). Hollows was a skilled ophthalmologist who worked tirelessly to reduce the cost of eye health care and treatment among indigenous communities in Australia and developing countries.
Sightsavers’ partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation sees us working together from opposite sides of the world to achieve our vision of eliminating avoidable blindness.
One of our main areas of cooperation is in combating blinding trachoma, a bacterial eye infection which affects over one billion of the world’s poorest people. Sightsavers has launched a fast-track initiative to eliminate trachoma by 2020, and we are working with the Foundation to implement the World Health Organization’s recommended SAFE Strategy: a combination of surgery, antibiotics, face washing and environmental improvement.
We’re also collaborating on operational research; advocating for human resource development for eye care professionals; working to influence governments to raise the profile of eye health; and strengthening systems at an organisational level, including the development of staff and operational systems.
The US government has engaged in international health activities for more than a century, and today is the largest funder and implementer of global health programmes worldwide. As one of the most influential bilateral donor agencies, USAID is an important partner for Sightsavers.
Since 2011 we have been part of ENVISION, a five-year global project funded by USAID to support national neglected tropical disease (NTD) control programmes for the control and elimination of seven targeted NTDs. As part of ENVISION, Sightsavers supports the National NTDs Programme in Cameroon, working through Helen Keller International (the lead recipient of the ENVISION funding) and the Ministry of Public Health. This involves initial advocacy, training and community mobilisation activities, leading on to mass drug administration campaigns with subsequent supervision and monitoring.
As part of the project Sightsavers has also carried out mapping of trachoma in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Chad, Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire and Malawi. This is contributing to the findings of the Global Trachoma Mapping Project, funded by the UK Department for International Development.
Sightsavers has also received several grants since 2007 through USAID’s Child Blindness Program, which aims to deliver quality eye care services to children and increase global knowledge of paediatric eye care through innovation and the implementation of best practices. With this funding, we have carried out eye care interventions and capacity building activities in Malawi, Uganda and Bangladesh.
The END Fund is a private philanthropic initiative to combat the five most common neglected tropical diseases.
The END Fund has and continues to support Sightsavers, through its partners by funding national disease control programmes. In 2015, the END Fund partnered with Sightsavers to undertake critical impact assessments to determine whether additional antibiotic treatment for blinding trachoma was required in Guinea Bissau, or verify if communities were close enough to eliminating the disease for treatment to be stopped.
The organization is also delivering blinding trachoma prevention antibiotics in Darfur, Sudan – chronically underdeveloped following conflict over the last five decades. This is in response to the Sightsavers led global trachoma disease mapping, funded by UK Aid, which highlighted the significant need for intervention against trachoma in the region.
As well as trachoma, the END Fund also supports Sightsavers’ programmes, to tackle river blindness in Côte d’Ivoire and more recently South Sudan. Because of continued instability in the area, South Sudan has a high burden of neglected tropical diseases including river blindness infection that can lead to severe skin disease with unrelenting itching, visual impairment and eventual blindness. Through partners, Sightsavers is working to provide preventative antibiotics.
Finally, Sightsavers works with the END Fund to deliver trachoma elimination activities in Tanzania through The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust programme.
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Sightsavers is one of only nine charities given a ‘high performance’ rating by the UK Department for International Development as part of a 2012 Independent Performance Review of their Programme Partnership Arrangement. Find out more.
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