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Sponsored feature: Vision Aid Overseas project, Mansa, Zambia


Noel Meehan (Team leader)  Director of Specsavers in Galway, Ireland  talks with Karen Edwards, Programme Director  Vision Aid Overseas in Zambia

Noel Meehan (Team leader) Director of Specsavers in Galway, Ireland talks with Karen Edwards, Programme Director Vision Aid Overseas in Zambia

Noel Meehan peels an apple

Noel Meehan peels an apple


Noel Meehan (Team leader) Director of Specsavers in Galway, Ireland talks with Karen Edwards, Programme Director Vision Aid Overseas in Zambia

Mansa is the provincial capital of the Luapula Province of Zambia .This is in north Zambia 50k from the Congo border. Luapula province has a population of over 1 million people with very little optometry facilities

Aim of the Project

To provide an ongoing optometry facility for the population of Luapula province and surrounding areas. Vision Aid Overseas has now taken a strategic outlook in Zambia in setting up Vision Centres at different locations throughout the whole country. Mansa is part of this strategic outlook. Vision Aid Overseas in conjunction with Mansa General Hospital will set up this Vision Centre .This will provide a sustainable optometry service.

Vision Aid Overseas has already opened Vision Centres in Lusaka and Kabwe which are now up and running and fully functional with fully trained staff providing eye care services for the local population in these Provinces.

Vision Centre

Mansa Vision Centre will consist of a Refraction room. Dispensing room and fully operational Optical Laboratory which will be able to make spectacles to the exact prescription .Thus this will eliminate using recycled spectacles and provide spectacles made to the exact prescription


Vision Aid Overseas Volunteers have agreed to take on this project. 3 Volunteers are Specsavers employees. 2 Volunteers are non Specsavers employees while the 6th person is living and working in Zambia with Vision Aid Overseas.

Noel Meehan < Team leader > Director of Specsavers in Galway <Ireland > has selected his team very carefully based on their individual skills to carry out the training required to deliver the project successfully.

The training required to make this project successful has been broken into 3 parts

Part 1 - Refraction - 10 optical nurses to be trained by the team to do an eye test

Part 2 - Work Shop - 4 Optical lab trainees to be trained in glazing

Part 3 Dispensing / Stock control - Dispensing and stock replenishment to be taught to the optical Laboratory staff

The other team members are

Jack Baum - Deputy team leader / Director of Specsavers in Holloway

Sinead Cosgrave - Optical laboratory manager in Specsavers Galway Ireland

Neil Cox - Optometrist / Contact lens specialist / Senior Optometrist at Moorfields and Kings Colleges Hospitals London

Yasmin Hirani - Optometrist Kingswinford.

Karen Edwards - Programme Director VisionAid Overseas in Zambia

Each of these 6 team members have a wide variety of skills to offer and are well trained to carry out this project successfully


Vision Aid Overseas have ear marked Mansa as provincial town for a Vision Centre for some time but were limited by budget restrictions .The Team was selected in March and preparations commenced then .

Training Modules were prepared in both optical refraction and workshop skills

The Project will start on the 17th June. This is a four part project This Team is responsible for Part A .This Team is responsible for the initial setting up of the equipment ,the initial training of the Optical nurses and Optical technicians ,putting in place the systems and procedures to maintain the running of the Vision Centre on an ongoing basis .Part B will start in August ,Part C in September and Part D in October .Part A ,B, and C will involve further training of the staff in the Vision Centre to bring them up to a standard that is acceptable and sustainable.


All Vision Aid Overseas projects in Zambia are dependent financially on Specsavers Optical Group and Specsavers Opticians .Without their financial help these Vision Centres would just not happen.

Note Specsavers in conjunction with Vision Aid Overseas currently are supporting a full time Optometry course in Lusaka in Zambia . This will be a 4 year course funded by Specsavers

Each Volunteer on a Vision Aid Overseas Project has to make a personal donation before they participate. Many also raise funds to support the project. The personal cost to a Volunteer can be high. This includes vaccines, time off work, unpaid leave unless their employer is generous enough to give them the time off and any personal donation that they give themselves

The Future

Vision Aid Overseas strategic plan moving forward aims to open other Vision Centres in Zambia .This will make Eye Care services in Zambia sustainable.

Karen Edwards who is the Country leader for Vision Aid Overseas is doing a fantastic job on the ground in Zambia .Her hard work in association with various teams of Volunteers has given rise to the successful opening of 3 Vision Centres. She has also been instrumental in organising continual clinics in out reach areas where eye care is very limited.