Further to the formal agreement in December 2021 regarding the intention for the two organisations to work closer together through the transition of programmes of VFAN to VAO, agreement on some higher level transformative objectives, and following a visit to Ghana in February 22, by Nicola Chevis (CEO) and Anne Buglass (VAO’s Director of Programmes) to work alongside Ibrahim Abdallah (VAO’s Deputy Director of Programmes, based Accra) and the VFAN Ghana team, we are delighted to be able to provide an update on the transition process.

First and foremost, we have received extremely positive and supportive messages from across the International Development and Eye Care Sector as well as from our donors and supporters for taking this initiative of coming together. This support is very much valued.

We are also happy to report that Tony Hulton, the outgoing CEO of VFAN along with Ahalya Subramanian, an outgoing VFAN Trustee have joined the VAO Board of Trustees as co-opted trustees, in February 2022. James Chen, a Founder and Trustee of VFAN has agreed to become a Patron of VAO and again we are greatly appreciative of his ongoing support.

In Ghana, partners and the National Eye Care Committee of the Ghana Health Service also expressed their congratulations and support for the transition and welcomed leadership from VAO in support of the National Eye Care Strategy, in particular respect to Primary Eye Care, School Eye Health and for increasing access to eye care services and glasses for underserved populations as part of driving Universal Eye Health Coverage in Ghana. We had exciting discussions with existing and new partners regarding a vision for Ghana for which developing new partnerships will be key to achieving scale and sustaining impact, including around strengthening data and evidence. A VAO country strategy is under development by the team in Ghana and should be available by late summer 2022. It will build on the legacy of VFAN in Ghana delivering Primary Eye Care and screening for children and consider pathways to scale over the next 5 years. It will also incorporate the soon to begin Social Enterprise Pilot Programme with the Challenges Group, opening up access to refraction services and glasses for underserved populations using a Social Enterprise Model.

VAO has started scoping a re-branding exercise and set up a cross organisational working group including trustees and staff to oversee the process.

“It is already becoming evident that by bringing the two organisations together our offer is more comprehensive and plays to our combined strengths, so we can have greater impact for sustainable access to eye care not only in Ghana but also in Sierra Leone, Zambia and Ethiopia.” Nicola Chevis, CEO Vision Aid Overseas