September 13, 2021, Ghana, Africa and Singapore – Tech Era (hereinafter, Tech Era), an award-winning technology-based social enterprise in Ghana and Plano Pte. Ltd. (hereinafter, Plano), a Singapore-based healthtech start-up, have inked a Memorandum of Understanding 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 Tech Era and Plano 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, that helps encourage behaviour that is protective for myopia, is now available on all smartphones and tablets in Ghana, Africa.
Plano, founded by Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani, is a Singapore-based healthtech start-up launched in late 2017. Plano was the first spin-off from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme. 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 3 years, Plano is considered as a global leader in the fight against myopia, through its education and awareness, technological solutions, and research and AI capabilities. Plano was recently awarded the prestigious prize for being the World’s Most Innovative Healthtech Startup in 2020.
Tech Era is a social enterprise that is accelerating development in Africa in an inclusive way. It creates technology, facilitates strategic partnerships, and designs sustainable intervention programs to ensure that everyone, especially vulnerable populations, can access life changing products, services, and intervention programs. Tech Era’s impact has grown across the African continent through the establishment of 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.
Myopia is one of the most common health problems in the world, affecting about 1 in 3 people (2.6 billion) in the world. The number of people with myopia is expected to increase to 5 billion by the year 2050 (half the world’s population).1 Myopia is highest in East and Southeast Asian countries, where studies show that myopia affects 80-90% of teenagers and young adults in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and 96.5% of 19-year-old men in South Korea. A growing prevalence of myopia has been reported in African children, with approximately 1 in 6 children leaving secondary school having myopia.1 However, results from 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. The low uptake of eye checks in Africa is a pressing issue and may be one of the reasons that’s causing the lack of eye problems being diagnosed, including myopia. Myopia also poses major problems to the economy, with recent estimates suggesting that the loss of productivity associated with myopia costs the global economy up to US$244 billion per year.2
Plano’s Founding Managing Director, Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani and the Plano team have welcomed the partnership with Tech Era. “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,” said Associate Professor Dirani.
Derick Omari, Chief Executive Officer of Tech Era, said: “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.”
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 (1) developing a sustainable model for myopia education and awareness initiatives that are tailored for families, teachers, and other important stakeholders in Africa and (2) 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.
Plano was developed with a clear purpose; to save sight and empower lives. With a culture of disruptive thinking grounded in real scientific research, Plano promotes the use of innovative technology to provide a solution to help mitigate the public health, societal and economic issues posed by excessive device usage. Plano’s Founding Managing Director, Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani, has dedicated his life to the study and research of myopia, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and an Honorary Principal Investigator at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). www.plano.co
About Tech Era
Tech Era exists to ensure that the world works for all. Through technology innovation, partnerships, training, and advocacy, Tech Era provides access to life changing products, services, and intervention programs that ensures that no one is left behind. Tech Era’s portfolio of products and partnerships have transformed the lives of many children, youth, and persons with disabilities across the African continent. This has earned the organization several global recognitions and awards including an award from HM Queen Elizabeth II for its work in Ghana and across the African continent. Led by Derick Omari, one of the 100 most influential young Africans and a multiple award-winning social entrepreneur, Tech Era is working to create access for all, especially children and persons with disabilities. www.techera.africa
Media Contact (Plano)
Plano Pte. Ltd.
Telephone: +65 9757 6762
Media Contact (Tech Era)
Telephone: +233 57 384 6565
- Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. May 2016;123(5):1036-42. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006
- Naidoo KS, Fricke TR, Frick KD, et al. Potential Lost Productivity Resulting from the Global Burden of Myopia: Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Modeling. Ophthalmology. Oct 17 2018;doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.10.029