Novartis announces winners of 2018 eXcellence in Ophthalmology Vision Award

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 blindness1.

"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 cured2," 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.​

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