Derick Omari, a 2018 Ashesi University presidential awardee and founder of Tech Era, an award-winning technology-based social enterprise in Ghana and Plano Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based health tech start-up, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to address the growing problem of myopia (short-sightedness) in Africa.

This partnership marks Plano’s first collaboration with a partner in Africa and will leverage on the respective strengths of both parties to introduce Plano’s easy-to-use, innovative, and science-based technological solutions to children and families in Africa to keep them safe online and their eyes healthy, with a focus on myopia.

The Plano application, which helps encourage protective behaviour for myopia, is now available on all smartphones and tablets in Ghana. 

Myopia is one of the most common health problems globally, affecting about one in three people (2.6 billion) in the world. The number of people with myopia is expected to increase to five billion by 2050 (half the world’s population).

A growing prevalence of myopia has been reported in African children, with approximately 1 in 6 children leaving secondary school having myopia.

However, a recent (2021) pilot study conducted by Plano in partnership with Tech Era found that an alarming 85% of children had never had their eyes checked by an eye health professional.

Speaking at the signing event, Professor Mohamed Dirani, Founder of Plano, expressed his optimism about the partnership;

“We are delighted to partner with Tech Era, with long-term plans already well underway to make Plano’s ecosystem accessible and relevant for families in Africa,” he added.

Plano is an award-winning Singapore-based health tech start-up launched in late 2017. The key products in the company’s ecosystem include the Plano application, the online eye health booking system, planoEyecheck, and its global eye health education-based website.

The science-based Plano application, already patented in Singapore and Japan, has been adopted by more than 500,000 parents.

In less than three years, Plano has become a global leader in the fight against myopia through its education and awareness, technological solutions, and research and AI capabilities.

Derick Omari, Chief Executive Officer of Tech Era, in his response to the agreement, emphasised the importance of the collaboration to African homes:

 “Tech Era’s partnership with Plano is crucial to ensure that parents and children in Africa have access to the world’s leading science-based intervention that keeps children’s eyes and their mobile device use safe,” he revealed.

Tech Era’s impact has grown across the African continent by establishing strategic partnerships, globally recognized and award-winning initiatives for persons with disabilities in Africa, provision of educational products to schools, and accessible products for households in Africa.

Tech Era’s vision is to remove accessibility gaps, and it seeks to achieve a part of this through the partnership with Plano by ensuring that children and parents in Africa can have access to Plano’s products and services to help keep them safe online and their eyes healthy.

Through this partnership, Tech Era and Plano will continue to work together to address the growing public health concern of myopia on the African Continent by developing a sustainable model for myopia education and awareness initiatives that are tailored for families, teachers, and other important stakeholders in Africa and driving the uptake and engagement of Plano’s science-based technological solutions to mitigate the risk factors for myopia, with a focus on better managing the use of digital devices in children in Africa.