First students have commenced their studies
After almost 5 years planning, the first ever School of Optometry in Haiti has welcomed 17 new students into the Bachelor of Vision Sciences program. Entry to the course was competitive, with 144 applicants taking the entrance exam on World Sight Day, October 12th.
One of the successful applicants is Pierre Christopher (pictured). He was delighted to learn that he would be commencing classes for his 5-year degree qualification on November 6th.
“I am 19 years old and I am hoping to have a career as an optometrist and help people in my country to gain access to the vision care they need,” he said.
There has been a very positive response to the establishment of the School, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine at l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti (UEH), in Port au Prince. The creation of locally trained optometrists will be a huge benefit for the 70% of the population who currently have little or no access to eye care services.
"This School will seek to graduate 16 optometrists per year initially but we expect the annual intake to grow over the coming years,” said Dr. Luigi Bilotto, Director Global Human Resource Development, Brien Holden Vision Institute, which is the lead international implementing partner for the project. "This means within 10 years, there will be at least 80 new locally educated eye care professionals who will be providing eye care to more than 360,000 Haitians per annum.”
Next steps for the School are to employ a course coordinator and a secretary; and to finalize the refurbishment of the specialty clinics that will be required from Year 2 of the course.
The School of Optometry in Haiti is a collaboration between UEH, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Optometry Giving Sight, VOSH International and Charity Vision with support from University of Montreal. Additional funding support has been provided by Essilor Canada, Vision Source and FYidoctors.