China has almost 20 per cent of the world's blind population, with the greatest burden of avoidable blindness. Restoring sight to people with avoidable blindness will help give them a new lease on life. The Fred Hollows Foundation is honoured to have support from the Standard Chartered Bank for launching the “Seeing is Believing Phase V Project: A Comprehensive Rural Eye Care Model in Yunnan Province”. Working together with The Yunnan Red Cross Hospital, the project will benefit 2 million people in Yunnan Province.

The RMB 7 million-project is community-based, and covers six areas in the province including Wenshan, Dali, Binchuan, Nanjian, Yanshan and Guangnan. The project will last from 2016 until 2019, and is expected to form a rural eye care model which is replicable in the medical system across China. The project includes:
  •  Training of eye doctors, nurses and medical staff
  • Support to provide and construct eye health facilities
  • Regular eye screening and the needed treatment in rural areas
  • Eye health education and promotion
  • Data collection to set up a database, so as to provide statistics to national blind prevention work  
There are 26 million people who are visually impaired in China with 6 million people who are blind. Yunnan is a ethnically-diversed province which needs upgraded eye health services. It is especially important to raise awareness of avoidable blindness in rural areas in order to lower the rate of blindness and visual impairment. Statistics show that around 1.5 million people are troubled by blindness and various eye diseases in Yunnan. 

Four out of five people who are blind don't need to be. Failure to see does not only affect the patients themselves, but also the lives of their family members. Avoidable blindness is more than a health problem but an issue which deserves attention of the society. With their sight restored, patients can further their studies or find a job to bring income to their families. The Fred Hollows Foundation commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct research which found that for every US$1 invested in ending avoidable blindness, there is on average a US$4 economic benefit for a country’s economy.

Seeing is Believing is a global initiative of the corporate social responsibility arm of Standard Chartered Bank. The program collaborates with leading eye-care organizations and charities to support the development of sustainable eye-care services in areas of poverty and high need. The Fred Hollows Foundation has been partnering with Seeing is Believing in China since 2008. 

The project is also supported by Yunnan Health and Family Planning Commission, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Yunnan, Yunnan Disabled Persons Federation, Yunnan Provincial Civil Affairs Department and Yunnan Red Cross Hospital.