How IAPB began...
In the mid-1970s the late Sir John Wilson amongst others, began to draw the international community’s attention to the problem of global blindness. These efforts led to the setting up of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) on January 1, 1975, with Sir John Wilson as the Founder President. The founding members were the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO).
IAPB was established as a coordinating, umbrella organisation to lead an international effort in mobilising resources for blindness prevention activities. IAPB aspired to link professional bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), educational institutions and interested individuals with national programmes for the prevention of blindness.
The first major achievement of IAPB was to promote the establishment of a WHO Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment team, with which it then entered into an official relationship.
Prevention of Blindness MILESTONES
A Brief Review of Milestones in the Global Program for the Prevention of Blindness - Initially compiled by Terrence Gillen
The 66th World Health Assembly unanimously approves 'Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014-2019'. The plan, building upon and replacing previous VISION 2020 and 2009 - 2013 Action Plans, commits governments to a 25% reduction in the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by the year 2019 from the baseline of 2010.
The 9th General Assembly in Hyderabad attracts around 1600 registered delegates from 86 countries, doubling the numbers of previous assemblies. Prof. Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India, gave the Sir John Wilson Lecture: discussing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and their impact on global health, Prof. Reddy highlighted the need for eye health to play a bigger role in the global NCDs framework. He exhorted the delegates to work towards positioning eye health in the wider health systems discourse, as vision loss is relevant to discussions on wider health implications of poverty, productivity, aging and a health systems framework that is more patient-centric.
The Assembly culminates with the endorsement by acclamation of the 'Hyderabad Declaration', calling on international organisations, regional entities, governments, civil society and the private sector to work together to ensure that blindness and visual impairment are adequately and comprehensively addressed within an inclusive international development framework and as part of primary health care and health systems.
Mr. Bob McMullan, former Minister of the Australian Government, is elected as the new IAPB President.
IAPB holds Countdown to 2020 event in Geneva to celebrate the successes of VISION 2020 and call for even closer collaboration, partnership and investment in the fight for sight.
IAPB 2010 report launched to mark the halfway point of the goals of VISION 2020. The report comes just before new WHO preliminary estimates released after publication indicate that visual impairment prevalence has been reduced from 314 million people in 2004, to 285.3 million today. Of these, 39.8 million people are estimated to be blind worldwide.
The 2009-2013 Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment is endorsed by the 62nd World Health Assembly.
The Eighth General Assembly of the IAPB is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the theme, "Excellence and Equity in Eye Care". The Assembly sees a participation of 800 participants from 60 countries; the largest attendance of any previous assembly. Prof Allen Foster gave the Sir John Wilson Oration, while Dr Zulma Ortiz delivered the Alan Johns Memorial Lecture.
Prevention of Blindness included in WHO strategic plan and objectives.
Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness Action Plan 2006-2011 is released by the WHO. The Durban Declaration on Refractive Error announced at the first World Congress on Refractive Error and Service Development.
The 59th World Health Assembly is presented with a report on the implementation of WHA resolution 56.26 and during its sessions, a new WHA resolution is adopted to further support prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment globally (WHA resolution 59.25 ‘Prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment’).