August 18, 2021

Partnership Summary: Kick-starting eye care businesses in rural Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, a BPP partnership with global eye care company Essilor, training organisation MART and the Australian Government trained rural youth to fit glasses and do basic eye testing and referrals, acting as “Eye Mitro” (friend of the eye). In two years, over 400 primary eye care providers have been trained, providing nearly 10 million people with access to eye care. This Partnership Summary provides an insight into how the partners worked together, the complex challenges they faced and what they achieved.

About the initiative

Globally one in three people cannot see clearly and 90 per cent of these people live in developing countries where they often lack access to eye care. This partnership reduced the investment and risk for Essilor to expand a sustainable commercial model in Bangladesh to address a lack of access to eye care. The Australian Government helped to provide credibility to the partnership and accelerate Essilor’s presence and growth in Bangladesh.

Localising a regional concept

While the Eye Mitro program had previously been successful in India, the process of establishing a similar program in Bangladesh came with challenges. Essilor worked hard to gain government accreditation of its training program, including ensuring that Eye Mitro were actively connecting patients to other local health services, documenting the importance of front-line eye care in rural areas and the value of referrals made to government hospitals for more serious conditions.

Key contributions from partners

Impact

New eye care businesses: 250 businesses
Trained eye care professionals: 400 people
People with access to eye care: 10 million
Cataract patients referred to nearby hospitals: 22,000 people

The Eye Mitro find that 60 per cent of their sales are repeat orders, meaning that they are sustainably able to operate their business. This also indicates a cultural change in areas with Eye Mitro services, as people begin to regularly check their vision, and use corrective lenses.

COVID-19 impacts

As a result of COVID-19, partners are supporting Eye Mitro through health insurance and tools to continue providing eye care safely, and there is further ongoing work to support the business sustainability of Eye Mitro beyond COVID-19.

What’s next?

The partners have a long term view of the opportunities for the Eye Mitro program in Bangladesh and are concentrated on increasing both trainees and practising Eye Mitro, reaching more communities across Bangladesh with the goal of further decreasing preventable vision loss through corrective lenses.

Learn more in the Partnership Summary: 

Download the Partnership Summary or email us to find out more: info@thebpp.com.au

Banner photo: Sajib Muhammad on behalf of Essilor

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