Collaboration to Provide Vision Care Advances SDG#17: Partnerships for the Goals

By Pelin Munis, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, RestoringVision

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #17 sets out to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”

The United Nations also states: “The Global Goals can only be met if we work together. International investments and support are needed to ensure innovative technological development, fair trade and market access, especially for developing countries. To build a better world, we need to be supportive, empathetic, inventive, passionate, and above all, cooperative.”

RestoringVision lives and breathes partnerships. This is in our DNA and our founding was built on the power of partnerships with people and organizations working together to restore vision for people living on less than $2 a day, who lack access to a 13th-century invention – a pair of eyeglasses – and the ability to afford them.

Today, the importance of partnerships in our work is greater than ever and has several layers.  Dedicated people from diverse backgrounds and organizations come together to restore vision for people in need across the globe. Our unparalleled network of more than 2,500 NGOs and governments, along with our corporate and foundation donors who provide financial support, and world-leading optical companies who help ensure we have quality glasses, add up to an all-hands-on-deck approach for advancing our mission to solve the global vision crisis.

Another aspect of partnerships involves working with ministries of health around the globe to develop more sustainable programming so that one day we can reach our goal of ensuring all people – no matter where they live – have ongoing access to vision services and eyeglasses they need. One of the targets for achieving SDG#17 includes: “Respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development.” Our work at RestoringVision advances this through our partnership with and support of governments developing sustainable channels for vision services and eyeglasses.

Our Global Access Program is another good example of advancing SDG#17. It is implemented in collaboration with leading global health and humanitarian NGOs and governments in low- and middle-income countries. Projects are large-scale and vary in focus and structure. Some programs are embedded into existing health schemes and implemented as part of ongoing clinics or health fairs, pop-up vision camps and mobile clinics. Other programs provide comprehensive eye care services led by optometrists and ophthalmologists.

The Global Access Program spans several continents with our largest markets being Latin America, Africa, and SE Asia. Aligned with our strategic plan, RestoringVision is expanding and deepening our programmatic footprint in these regions and creating sustainable channels by building local partnerships and collaborating with governments. In our commitment to serve the most vulnerable individuals, we are also expanding our reach to refugees, displaced populations, and those living in disaster and conflict zones.

In addition, we implement our Community Outreach Program in collaboration with small and medium size nonprofits, primarily based in the United States, who conduct outreach and medical mission trips to less developed countries. These projects typically serve smaller communities and reach people in some of the most remote regions of the world; another important step towards advancing SDG#17.

We firmly believe that one day we will solve the global vision crisis by providing sustainable and affordable access to vision services, through the power of partnerships and global collaboration.