Newsletter #1, 15th December 2014

Click here to view the entire CEHC newsletter #1 or read it below.

Welcome to our first newsletter!

We are now approaching the six-month mark in the timeframe of the Consortium, and the team has been working hard with our funder, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, to work towards our mission: to strengthen eye health systems and quality of eye care throughout the Commonwealth.

The Consortium’s international partner organisations

The Consortium's international partner organisationsClick on the map for a larger image.

Official Launch of the Consortium

CEHC Launch-125More than 150 healthcare professionals from all over the world gathered at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the official launch of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium on Wednesday 5th November 2014. The Consortium is a collaboration between international eye-health training and academic institutions, and aims to strengthen eye health systems in low- to middle-income Commonwealth countries. The audience included officials from international Ministries of Health, ophthalmologists, diabetologists, and non-governmental organisations.

The session was opened by Dr Astrid Bonfield, CEO of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, funders of the Consortium. Dr Bonfield presented the Trust’s commitment to supporting quality eyecare and the prevention of avoidable blindness. Dr Matthew Burton, as its Director, provided an overview of the Consortium and its programmes: research, fellowships and technology. Other speakers included Ms Marcia Zondervan, lead of the diabetic retinopathy network; Dr Andrew Bastawrous, co-founder of Peek, the portable eye examination kit; Dr Cova Bascaran, head of the Masters programme; Dr Daksha Patel, lead of the Open Educational Resources; Dr Nick Astbury, chair of the Consortium clinical fellowships; and Professor Sir Peng Khaw, who presented on behalf of OpenEyes, the electronic patient record system. The event was chaired by Professor Allen Foster, co-Director of the International Centre for Eye Health, where the Consortium is co-ordinated. Dr Matthew Burton said, The Consortium, funded by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, is a fantastic opportunity for many eye care professionals and organisations to learn together and promote the development of high quality eye care services around the Commonwealth.

Diabetic Retinopathy Workshop

DR-NET 2014A week-long workshop was held in the first week of November to address the growing burden of diabetic retinopathy (DR) across the Commonwealth. There are currently 20 million Africans suffering from diabetes, and this figure is expected to increase by 109% over the next 20 years. The workshop was organised by the DR network, part of the Consortium, and was attended by over 80 delegates. The DR network is a five-year project aiming to reduce blindness due to DR across the Commonwealth. It is based on existing long-term training partnerships between UK and international institutions. During the workshop, each team developed a two-year action plan to develop their DR services, specific for their national or regional situation.

Peek Retina campaign launched


It is now possible to pre-order the Peek Retina smartphone camera adapter to enable easy imaging inside the eye. You can also pledge to donate a device to someone in a low-income setting and be a part of the solution to prevent avoidable blindness. Healthcare workers in remote parts of the world will be able to locate blind or visually impaired people and test their vision and eye health easily using Peek. To make this technology available, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise the funds needed to manufacture and distribute Peek Retina.

Visit to support the campaign, follow Peek on Twitter @peekteam, and on Facebook at Peek Vision.

Featured CEHC Scholar: Dr Desirée Murray

Desiree MurrayThe Consortium has awarded Dr Desirée Murray with one of its very first scholarships to study for a Masters in Public Health for Eye Care (MPHEC) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Desirée is an Ophthalmologist and Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

Desirée is the chairperson of The Volunteers for World Sight Day, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization which was formed in Trinidad and Tobago in 2006 and which is dedicated to raising awareness about the causes of preventable blindness. She is also a past secretary/treasurer of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies (OSWI) and co-founder of the West Indian Society of Glaucoma Surgeons (WINGS).

Her main goal is to continue working towards the elimination of avoidable visual impairment and blindness in adults and children, through development, implementation and promotion of National Eye Health programmes. Particular areas of concern include cataract blindness, blindness from diabetic retinopathy and blindness due to open-angle glaucoma in adults and uncorrected refractive errors, retinopathy of prematurity and trauma in children. Universal and equitable access to eye care is the ultimate goal.

About us

The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium is a group of eye health organisations from several Commonwealth countries working together to deliver an exciting, integrated, five-year programme of fellowships, research and technology which aims, over the long-term, to strengthen eye health systems and quality of eye care throughout the Commonwealth.

Click on the map above to see our international partner organisations.

The Consortium is funded by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Stay in touch!

Thank you for your support and interest in our Consortium. Please stay in touch by visiting our website and liking our new Facebook page!