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SightLife’s Groundbreaking Partnership with Novartis Will Expand Access to Eye Care in Ethiopia

SightLife’s Groundbreaking Partnership with Novartis Will Expand Access to Eye Care in Ethiopia

Building a foundation for the integration of eye health into primary care in rural communities

In 2022, SightLife is expanding our impact through a new partnership with Novartis, a global pharmaceutical company reimaging medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. Leveraging Novartis’ expertise and network in Sub-Saharan Africa, SightLife will bring our leading health systems approach to addressing the inequities that contribute to and perpetuate corneal blindness in rural communities across Ethiopia, in collaboration with long-time partner Himalayan Cataract Project.

“At Novartis, we are thrilled to work alongside SightLife to create sustainable impact on the continuum of eye care in Ethiopia,” said Anthony Mwangi, Head of Novartis East Africa Cluster. “We firmly believe that everyone, regardless of where they are should have access to quality health care. This partnership will go a long way in helping to improve and extend the lives of people in Ethiopia as we work to reimagine access to eye care.”

In Ethiopia, nearly 80% of the population live in rural areas which often have limited – sometimes even non-existent – access to health care, including eye care. These rural areas also have a great number of agricultural workers and farm laborers who are particularly vulnerable to corneal blindness due to the lack of access to quality eye protection. Consequently, when a simple corneal scratch is left untreated, an individual may not only lose their sight, but they often lose their opportunity to continue their education or work – creating significant financial burdens for their family.  

SightLife and Novartis will address these eye care gaps in Ethiopia while advancing progress towards United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s resolution to ensure universal access to eye care services through integrated people-centered eyecare. In 2022, our partnership will focus on:

  1. Training of primary health care providers, 
  2. Strengthening of the eye care referral pathway, and
  3. Advocating for health system integration.    

Independently run, each of these program areas can only achieve moderate impact. Pursued as a cohesive continuum of care with integration of existing components of the health system, these independent programs will act synergistically to optimize impact. 

“SightLife is honored to be an inaugural partner in Novartis’ Avoidable Blindness Program, which will accelerate us toward our mission of eliminating corneal blindness worldwide,” said SightLife Chief Global Officer Josie Noah. “We look forward to co-designing interventions and strategies with local partners, including Himalayan Cataract Project, to ensure long-term sustainability and impact, which is key to our health systems strengthening approach.”

Globally, more than 12.7 million people suffer from corneal blindness – the world’s third leading cause of avoidable blindness. In Ethiopia, far too many men, women, and children are living in darkness and many more will lose their vision this year. More than 80% of the conditions that lead to corneal blindness are preventable and treatable, but these eye care interventions are too often out-of-reach for patients in low- and middle-income countries.

We know vision enables a range of everyday activities that are critical to global progress, and moreover, our collective achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from reducing poverty and hunger to expanding opportunities for improved health, education, gender equality, and decent work. Accordingly, when the vision of a person is saved or restored, so is their independence and chance to stay in school, maintain employment, and provide for their family.

Together, SightLife and Novartis will renew hope and second chances for individuals, their families, and the communities they love. 

If you have any questions or want to learn more about our new partnership, email us at