- A panel of independent ophthalmologists and optometrists selected five winners out of more than 100 entries from 34 countries
- The 2018 grants support initiatives ranging from training teachers for vision screening in schools to launching eye care-specific training modules in Ethiopia, India, Micronesia, Sudan and Zimbabwe
- Novartis has been running this program for the last 8 years; submissions for the ninth annual XOVA are now open to eye care professionals and institutions
Basel, September 24, 2018 - Novartis announced the winners of the 2018 eXcellence in Ophthalmology Vision Award (XOVA) for nonprofit eye health initiatives at EURETINA 2018. The 2018 XOVA winners will help create sustainable eye clinics, train healthcare professionals, fight childhood blindness and increase eye health awareness in rural populations.
Novartis will award grants worth a combined total of $270,000 to the winners. Two of the projects, in India and Ethiopia respectively, will happen in areas listed among the top 20 countries with the highest number of people with visual impairment, including nine million people affected by blindness.
"Recipients of the XOVA have a real opportunity to improve vision care in areas that frequently lack access to adequate care," said Francesco Bandello, M.D., XOVA judge, Professor and Chairman Department of Ophthalmology, University Vita-Salute, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy. "We trust that these grants will help bring to life truly innovative projects aimed at supporting people with vision impairment or blindness."
This year's XOVA recipients and their winning proposals are as follows:
- John Corboy, on behalf of the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, USA, will develop a long-term eye care system in Micronesia, including a self-sustaining eye clinic.
- Marcia Zondervan, on behalf of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, will offer retinoblastoma training to prevent vision loss in children in Zimbabwe.
- Pradeep Agarwal, on behalf of the C. L. Gupta Eye Institute, Moradabad, India, will introduce teacher training for vision screening of school children in India.
- Howaida Alnour Makki Ahmad, on behalf of the University of Kordofan, Sudan, will develop and enact eye care-specific training modules for general health care professionals in rural areas of Sudan.
- Helen Dimaras, on behalf of the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (University of Toronto), Canada, will execute the first pediatric ophthalmology fellowship program in Ethiopia.
"Globally, more than 80 percent of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured," said Patrice Matchaba, Global Head, Global Health and Corporate Responsibility of Novartis International. "Funding projects to reimagine healthcare solutions, particularly in developing communities, is critical to reducing the burden of blindness and improving access to eye care worldwide."
Call for 2019 entries
XOVA, now in its eighth year, provides funding for nonprofit, sustainable initiatives aimed at addressing significant unmet needs in ophthalmology and optometry. Novartis is now calling for submissions for the 2019 XOVA from eye care specialists, including trainees and specialist nurses, with the endorsement of their institutions. Applications can be submitted through the XOVA website.
About Novartis in ophthalmology
For more than 70 years, patients, caregivers and healthcare providers worldwide have looked to Novartis for state-of-the-art treatments in eye diseases. We continue to invest in science as well as in strategic alliances to help ensure patients have access to screening, diagnosis, and our eye medicines. Our commitment to vision extends globally across ages, from premature infants to seniors, from rare diseases to those affecting millions, from eye drops to gene therapies. Our aspiration: reimagining eye care to help everyone see possibilities.
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Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people's lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world's top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 1 billion people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 125 000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at www.novartis.com.
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 Bourne, R. et. al. International Association for the Prevention of Blindenss, Visoin Atlas. GBVI - Country Estimates of Distance-Vision Loss. Available at: http://atlas.iapb.org/global-burden-vision-impairment/gbvi-country-estimates-distance-vision-loss/#table4 (link is external). Accessed August 2018.
 World Health Organization. "Blindness and visual impairment." Available at: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blindness-and-visual-impairment (link is external). Accessed August 2018.
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