In line with the Government of Rwanda's National Plan for the Elimination of Needless Blindness, Vision for a Nation will be phased in over a 5-year period. In Phase One, to be conducted in August 2009, approximately 2,000 people from the rural administrative district of Gicumbi will be screened and two different distribution mechanisms tested. In Phase Two, due to begin in the second quarter of 2010, the program will be expanded to screen the entire district of Gicumbi, approximately 300,000 people, during which an estimated 50,000 units will be dispensed and the program further refined. Funding for these first two phases is being sought.
Phase Three will be a national rollout to cover the remianing 29 districts of Rwanda so that, by 2014, the entire country will have been covered. During this phase, Adaptive Eyewear, in consultation with the Government of Rwanda, will commission a number of independent studies to determine the accuracy of vision correction and its impact on education, income, and road traffic accidents. A study on the cost effectiveness of vision correction will also be commissioned.
Between 50 and 70% of people living in high-income countries benefit from vision correction in the form of prescription eyewear and ready-made reading glasses. By comparison, in Africa, where eye care services and products are not readily accessible, 95% of people who need eyeglasses do not own a pair. Given that uncorrected refractive error has an adverse impact on education, employment and productivity it is a significant barrier to the attainment of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals. Recognizing the magnitude of this problem, correcting refractive error is a priority of Vision2020 - the Right to Sight, an initiative of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
The population of Rwanda is approximately 10 million. With only 8 ophthalmologists and 4 registered optometrists, there is a severe shortage of eye care professionals to serve the nation's vision care needs. Nearly 85% of the population live in rural areas where eye care services and their corresponding infrastructure are especially limited. Further to this, approximately 60% of Rwandans are living in poverty, making eyeglasses a luxury most cannot afford.
In April 2009, the Government of Rwanda approved a national plan for eye care which included the goal of providing eyeglasses to 100% of the population who need them, an estimated 1.2 million people. However, given Rwanda's shortage of eye care specialists, using a conventional approach to providing vision services is near impossible.
Invented by Professor Joshua Silver, self-adjustable eyeglasses can be deployed to adults by community-level workers which means that for the first time universal access to eyeglasses is possible. This approach also provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop novel mechanisms for addressing the vision correction needs of Rwandan children. A financial donation from the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation together with support from local and international partners will enable Adaptive Eyewear to start implementation of the Government of Rwanda's plan to achieve national eyeglasses coverage.
We urgently seek $375,000 final-stage funding to enable VFAN to complete the nurse outreach to every village in Rwanda. VFAN has secured $1.7m from the UBS Optimus Foundation to cover core staff costs of our team in Kigali, the ongoing nurse training costs, and also to deliver a major impact evaluation of our work. VFAN's founder, James Chen, has committed to fund the nurse outreach program during 2016 and we now critically need $375,000 to complete the outreach program in 2017. This final-stage $375,000 will fund the nurses to visit 5,000 villages -- providing 500,000 eye screenings and dispensing 50,000 pairs of glasses