Visionary Partnerships

9 June 2009

Today, senior executives from international bank, Standard Chartered, will be in Durban with project partners ICEE and the Department of Health to celebrate the progress of the 'Giving Sight to Africa' project which is funded through the Bank's global 'Seeing is Believing' campaign. The project is the result of a productive collaboration between sight NGO, 'ICEE' (International Centre for Eyecare Education), the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health and financial sponsor Standard Chartered Bank.

'The Giving Sight to Africa in Kwazulu Natal' project was launched on World Sight Day, 11 October 2007 and aims to extend eye care services to over 1 million individuals across the Kwazulu Natal province by the end of 2010, in line with the Governments social development agenda. The project is valued at USD1.65 million with Standard Chartered contributing 80% of the funds and will be rolled out over a 3 year period. Today, Standard Chartered and ICEE executives will be meeting with Provincial Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to celebrate the tangible benefits this innovative project has already delivered to the community, namely:

  • 600 nurses based at clinics have received basic equipment and training to provide primary eye care services.
  • 30 Primary Health Care training facilitators have attended primary eye care training.
  • The number of optometrists employed by the province has increased from 14 to 22, with 6 being supported directly through the project.
  • Optometry services are now available at 103 sites in the province as opposed to 49 at the start of the project.
  • 22 optometrists have attended continuous professional development course.
  • 38 Ophthalmic nurses have received equipment.
  • 17 optometry clinics have been supplied with equipment.

During the course of the day, executives and Health Department representatives will visit a temporary eye testing centre in the KwaMashu Hall where they expect to receive up to 300 pensioners from the surrounding community. The event is jointly hosted and coordinated by the Department of Health, ICEE and the eThekwini Metro. The executives will then go on to the Edendale Hospital's eye clinic in Pietermaritzburg, where they will meet up with the Provincial Minister of Health, Dr Singongiseni Dhlomo,. The optometrist and state of the art eyecare equipment at the Edendale Hospital are sponsored by the 'Giving Sight to Africa – Kwazulu Natal' project.

Group Finance Director, Standard Chartered Plc, who has flown in from the Bank's London Headquarters to visit the Bank's South African project in his role as Seeing is Believing Chairman, said, "It gives me great pleasure to be here today to witness the tangible benefits our partnership is already generating for individuals across KwaZulu Natal. Blindness and visual impairment are key issues affecting the educational and economic potential of individuals, their families and their ability to work. Through this unique partnership with ICEE and the Department of Health, we look forward to extending the reach of effective eye care services, and improve the lives of individuals living across Kwazulu Natal."

Not only will this project benefit the people of KwaZulu Natal, but the concept boasts the potential to be adopted by other provinces, as well as other African countries which use the District Health system. Professor Kovin Naidoo, ICEE Global Programme Director commented, "Africa suffers from disproportionate levels of avoidable blindness. With only 10% of the world's population it accounts for 19% of the avoidable blindness worldwide. At the recent WHO Health Assembly, a resolution was passed to expand efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness by strengthening national eye-health programmes. Standard Chartered Bank's Seeing is Believing sponsorship, and the Department of Health's partnership is helping us to deliver eye care to local communities and build infrastructure to build a sustainable holistic primary healthcare facility."

Attending the site visit with Standard Chartered Bank and ICEE, Provincial Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said, "Through collaborative efforts, innovative and committed public private partnerships like these, the Department of Health is able to address gaps in primary healthcare, and ensure eyecare is an integral component of our primary healthcare approach. We are extremely grateful to proactive corporates like Standard Chartered Bank, and NGO's like ICEE – working together, we can attain more for the benefit of over a million people by increasing access to clear sight."

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For further information please contact:

Lauren Callie - Head of Corporate Affairs
Standard Chartered Bank, South
Mobile: +27 (0)82 894 5581


Kerry-Anne Phillips
ICEE Communications
Mobile: +27 (0)78 284 6814

Notes to Editors:

About Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered PLC, listed on both London and Hong Kong stock exchanges, ranks among the top 25 companies in the FTSE-100 by market capitalisation. The London-headquartered Group has operated for over 150 years in some of the world's most dynamic markets, leading the way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Its income and profits have more than doubled over the last five years primarily as a result of organic growth and supplemented by acquisitions.

Standard Chartered aspires to be the best international bank for its customers across its markets. The Bank derives more than 90 per cent of its operating income and profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, generated from its Wholesale and Consumer Banking businesses. The Group has over 1600 branches and outlets located in over 70 countries. The extraordinary growth of its markets and businesses creates exciting and challenging international career opportunities.

Leading by example to be the right partner for its stakeholders, the Group is committed to building a sustainable business over the long term and is trusted worldwide for upholding high standards of corporate governance, social responsibility, environmental protection and employee diversity. It employs more than 70,000 people, nearly half of whom are women. The Group's employees are of 125 nationalities, of which 68 are represented among senior management.

In South Africa , Standard Chartered is focused on its successful Wholesale Banking strategy, leveraging its international footprint and expertise for the benefit of South African corporates and multinationals. In addition to the Bank's lending and financial markets capabilities, the Johannesburg Branch boasts 'Regional Centres of Expertise' such as Agricultural Finance, Project & Export Finance, Private Equity, Transaction Banking as well as mergers and acquisitions advisory services via the Bank's stake in 'First Africa'.

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About Seeing is Believing (SiB)

Seeing is Believing (SiB) is a global initiative to help tackle avoidable blindness, and is a collaboration between Standard Chartered and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) (registered charity, No. 1100559). IAPB is the leading umbrella organisation for NGOs working in the field of eye care. Together with the World Health Organisation, it launched 'Vision 2020: The Right to Sight', a global campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020.

To date, Seeing is Believing has raised over US$ 17 million for blindness initiatives and plans to invest a further US$ 20 million by 2014. Seeing is Believing is the single largest contributor to the development of Vision 2020 programmes through IAPB.

Please visit for more information.

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