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Three women honoured as Eye Health Heroes

Flavia and Alem in front of the vision corridor at Entebbe Hospital in Uganda
Flavia and Alem exploring the Vision Corridor at Entebbe Hospital, Uganda.
  • General
  • Eye Health

Today, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) announced the winners of the 2021 Eye Health Hero programme and they include three Light for the World colleagues.

Congratulations to Adugna Amin, Alem Mekonnen and Flavia Arato!

Let’s meet these outstanding women who lend their excellence and passion to the fight against eye diseases.

Adugna Amin Mohammed, innovator in neglected tropical disease (NTD) management

Adugna smiling. The young Ethiopian woman is wearing big silver loop earrings and a blue top
Adugna Amin was named a 2021 Eye Health Hero by IAPB

To witness how people in rural communities get their eyes treated and their eyesight saved never gets old. Everybody deserves the best healthcare possible and that must include eye health.

Adugna is an Eye Health and NTDs Programme Manager at Light for the World Ethiopia.

She uses behaviour change approaches to improve eye health and eliminate blinding Trachoma in communities. Adugna spearheaded the national ‘Early Childhood Trachoma Education’ pilot initiative in recognition of the important role which young children play in the transmission of Trachoma.

With NALA Foundation and Early Starters International, Adugna created cartoon character “Toto” who teaches young children about Trachoma and how to avoid this blindness-causing disease through hand-washing and good hygiene.

The approach was so successful that it was introduced in 180 primary schools in Tigray, will be used across Ethiopia, and got recognised as one of the best behaviour change tools.

More about Adugna’s work on IAPB’s website

Alem Mekonnen, change-maker in public health and comprehensive eyecare

Alem, a young Ethiopian woman in a light pink top looks straight into the camera.
Alem Mekonnen was named a 2021 Eye Health Hero by IAPB

I fall in love with my role all over again when I witness joyful girls, boys, women, and men who get their sight back.

Alem Mekonnen is a public health expert, managing Light for the World’s Ethiopian eye health programme.

She is driven by her strong conviction that people living in rural and disadvantaged communities have the right to nearby, high-quality eyecare.

With her team, and in close cooperation with partner organisations and the Ministry of Health, Alem sets up sustainable eye health services.

She won’t accept the fact that women and girls often have much less access to eye health and uses targeted strategies to break down barriers in their way.

 Partnership with the government health system is crucial, she says.

“Strengthening the public system and also understanding socio-economic contexts is the key to comprehensive, long-term, sustainable eye health services. That includes human resource development and capacity building at local level – that’s where change happens,” she explains.

More about Alem’s work on IAPB’s website

Flavia Arato, emerging leader on child eye health

Flavia is a young Italian woman with short dark brown hair wearing an orange blazer and gray top
Flavia Arato was named a 2021 Eye Health Hero by IAPB

I fully believe that through our Child Eye Health programme we can make a difference in the life of millions of children in Sub-Saharan Africa!

Flavia coordinates Light for the World’s Child Eye Health programme with passion, professionalism and attentiveness.

She has successfully set up Light for the World’s first Child and School Eye Health programme, coordinating teams across four countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. This child-centred programme was built in close collaboration with national Ministries of Health and Education to guarantee sustainability and strong official backing.

By coordinating Light for the World’s comprehensive Child Eye Health programme, Flavia has the ambition of bringing long-term improvements to the lives of the children of these four countries. “Ten years from now, every child in need of eyecare treatment should have access to such services,” she explains.

More about Flavia’s work on IAPB’s website

The IAPB Eye Health Hero Programme

Eye Health Heroes are individuals selected for their work in eyecare which improves peoples’ lives every day.

IAPB runs this year-long programme to support young eye health innovators, changemakers and emerging leaders. The programme provides learning events for the winners and connects them to leading experts in the eye health sector. The programme also offers a platform for the winners to showcase their work and strengthen their professional profile.

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