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IAPB Young Systems Leader Award: Belachew Paulos

Belachew Paulos, County Director in Ethopia, has been honoured with the prestigious Young Systems Leader award. Belachew’s remarkable journey in the field of public health and optometry highlights his commitment to enhancing eye care and health systems in Ethiopia and beyond.

Belachew’s academic background includes a degree in Clinical Optometry from Hawassa University of Medicine and Health Science College and a master’s degree in Public Health from Addis Continental Institute of Public Health in Addis Ababa. Early in his career, he served as a Senior Optometrist at Zewditu Memorial and Alert Referral Hospitals in Addis Ababa.

In 2016, Belachew joined Vision Action, and he currently leads the country program as the Country Director and serves as a freelance advisor for the Optometry Association in Ethiopia.

Throughout his career, Belachew has exhibited agility, adaptability, and exemplary leadership. He has overseen various multiyear projects, contributed to the national strategy for eye health, and actively collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MOH), key stakeholders, and professional associations. As an active member of the national committee for the prevention of blindness, Belachew has chaired the National School Eye Health and Refractive Errors Technical Working Group (TWG) for eight years.

Under his leadership, the TWG successfully adapted the National School Eye Health Manual for Teachers in 2021 and piloted its implementation in four regions, in collaboration with the MOH, Ministry of Education (MOE), and relevant stakeholders. Belachew also spearheaded a partnership with Save the Children International to design and implement the USAID-funded “Vision4 Inclusion, Leave no Child Behind” project, which integrated vision screening into school health and nutrition programs.

As a former President of the Ethiopian National Optometry Association, Belachew has supported the association in joining the African Council of Optometry (AFCO) and World Council of Optometry (WCO). He has also participated in numerous national and international workshops, including the Annual General Assembly and Scientific Conference of AFCO in Tanzania, the USAID Child Blindness Program partners meeting in Nepal, and Vision Action strategic development meetings in the UK and Zambia.

Upon receiving the Young Systems Leader award, Belachew expressed his gratitude and excitement:

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Young Systems Leader award. This recognition inspires me to continue my work with even greater passion and dedication. I am grateful for the support and collaboration of my colleagues, partners, and the communities we serve. Together, we can achieve remarkable progress in improving eye health and making a lasting impact.”

Belachew’s dedication and leadership serve as an inspiration to many, and his achievements continue to pave the way for better health systems and brighter futures for countless individuals.