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IAPB's Blog

IAPB runs in the 'Great City Race 2014'

IAPB was proud to participate in Seeing is Believing's 'Great City Race 2014' yesterday. A team comprising Susan Evans, Celene Leong and Robin Percy joined more than 2000 runners in the running challenge which takes place around the closed off streets of the City of London. Seeing is Believing is the official race beneficiary and all funds raised will be matched by the Standard Chartered Bank.

The weather was great, and the atmosphere was one of fun, energy and accomplishment. Kudos to all the runners!

Susan Evans    Celene Leong   

Susan Evans (Project Officer, Seeing is Believing), Celene Leong (Finance Administrator) and Robin Percy (VISION 2020 Workshop Programme Manager) during the run.


WBU attends 7th Conference of States Parties to the UNCRPD

The WBU was represented at the 7th COSP to the CRPD by WBU President Arnt Holte, 1st Vice President Fredric Schroeder, Immediate Past President Maryanne Diamond and CEO Penny Hartin. Maryanne Diamond was officially part of the International Disability Alliance delegation as IDA Vice Chair and incoming Chair, effective July 2014. The COSP was preceded by a Civil Society Forum on June 9th and the WBU hosted a side event on the Marrakesh Treaty on November 11th.  
 
While the WBU delegation was small, it is fair to say that our presence was significant and visible.  There were a significant number of blind and partially sighted persons present at the event as part of government or civil society delegations.  It was reported that 147 countries have now ratified the UNCRPD; there was also a commitment to hear from civil society as well as governments and that commitment was upheld.
 
A key theme throughout the Civil Society Forum and the COSP related to the importance of inclusion of disability in the goals and targets of the Post 2015 development agenda.  
 
Some specific sessions included in the Civil Society Forum addressed the following topics:
  • Main Conclusions from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Process
  • Aligning national, regional and global conversations
  • Forging Partnerships: Building Alliances with other vulnerable groups, including women, children, youth, Aging and indigenous peoples
  • Looking Ahead: a roadmap for advocacy to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development framework and concrete asks
During the COSP, a special roundtable was held on incorporating the provisions of CRPD in the post 2015 development agenda.  Representatives from relevant UN Departments gave the status of the Post 2015 agenda, key provisions in the Open Working Group report and milestones to September 2015 at which time the current MDGs will end.  
 
Some of the key messages heard throughout the 4 days included the following:
  • The need to push for inclusion of disability in the new development agenda and targets.
  • The need for disaggregated data that includes disaggregation by disability; a quote that was frequently repeated: “if we are not counted then we don’t count”
  • The importance of engaging with national governments to advocate for disability inclusion in the final version of the new development agenda.  
Therefore it will be critical to engage and advocate with national governments over the course of the next year to ensure disability inclusion and disaggregated data.  Since most governments who presented during the COSP sessions emphasized the importance of disability inclusion in the Post 2015 agenda, these presentations can be used as part of our advocacy strategies.
 
We had a number of panelists who focused on the need for countries to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and how the treaty related to the implementation of the UNCRPD.  The session was moderated by Fredric Schroeder on behalf of Arnt Holte and specific presentations included:
  • Maryanne Diamond - Chair WBU Right to Read Campaign and Immediate Past President WBU - Why we need a treaty, what it is and what it means for persons who are blind or partially sighted
  • Senator Kerryann  Ifill – Consultant/Facilitator Technology Services for the Blind/Visually Impaired, Barbados  - What the treaty means for blind or partially sighted persons living in developing countries
  • Martin Babu Mwesigwa - CRPD Committee Member - The linkage between the Marrakesh Treaty and the CRPD
  • Geidy Lung - Senior Counsellor, WIPO Copyright Law Division - How the Marrakesh Treaty fits with other WIPO treaties and what WIPO is doing to have it ratified
  • Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota  - Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations - The role of a champion member state in the development of the Marrakesh Treaty and the importance and urgency of member states ratifying it
  • Scott C. LaBarre – Lead, North America Treaty Ratification Campaign - What the United States is doing to progress the ratification of the Treaty
For further information about the Conference of States Parties, access to webcasts and documents, please see the UN Enable website
 
Penny Hartin, CEO, WBUPenny Hartin,
CEO, World Blind Union
 
 
 

Durban Calling

10GA. Some of you are possibly thinking that the next Assembly – 18-20 September 2016 - is ages away. But the IAPB team are determined that we will build on the success of Hyderabad 2012 and that means starting our planning even earlier this time round.
 
Alessandro Di Capua, IAPB’s Membership Manager, will be playing a key role in delivering 10GA. Blandine Labry, IAPB’s Finance Controller, has the experience and expertise to help plan for and manage the complex environment that we will be operating in. With 1000+ delegates and a new country every time, getting the correct systems in place and understanding the tax and financial landscape of the host country is critical to the GA’s financial sustainability. 10GA Save teh date
 
In May, the three of us set out for Durban, South Africa; home to the IAPB Africa team and the Brien Holden Vision Institute. As you know, Durban will be hosting 10GA in 2016 and the trip was to meet with partners, suppliers and a whole range of stakeholders involved. Over a packed work-week, we visited the venue, met with event suppliers and PCOs, our staple friends - eye health experts and enjoyed some great food (no detail too small!). 
 
Our partnership with L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad may seem a tough act to follow; 9GA’s resounding success sets a high bar. But we returned inspired by a beautiful city and the energy and creativity of the team at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Durban. A huge thank you to Kovin Naidoo, our ever charming host, and Petronella Nichols and her fantastic team, we are so excited about working with you.
 
A big thank you to Ronnie Graham and IAPB Africa team too. We camped out in their office, took over flip charts, desks and the demand for tea doubled!
 
The teams in London and Durban are now set on a course of collaboration and partnership to deliver the next General Assembly. There is a lot of work to do but we are determined to make 10GA the ‘must-attend’ event in your calendar in 2016.  
 
 
Joanna Conlon,
Director of Development, IAPB
 
 

GAP Update

July 2014

This is the first in what will become a regular feature from Peter Ackland updating you on latest developments that are contributing to the implementation of the WHA resolution 66.4 “Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019”. 

Where better to start this new series than the very first action articulated in the Global Action Plan (GAP) – Action 1.1 “Undertake population based surveys on prevalence of visual impairment and its causes.”

RAAB Training

I have just signed the ‘certificate of attendance’ for 11 people trained in the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) methodology, at a Trainer of Trainers workshop funded by IAPB. At these sessions, people with some RAAB experience look in detail at the theory and methodology of the RAAB tool. Following the training, individuals then have to participate in a RAAB study in the field. During this study, their performance is assessed by an experienced RAAB accreditor and, assuming all is well, the individual becomes a “certified” RAAB trainer – i.e. someone whom we are confident can not only conduct a good quality survey but also support and train others.

This training follows similar workshops held when RAAB was first introduced some ten years ago and more recently in Latin America in December 2012 and in West Pacific in  March 2014. There are now a total of 19 certified RAAB trainers and a further 29 people who have completed the theoretical training and will be certified as they engage in RAAB studies in the field. 

Resource for IAPB Members

So this is one way IAPB Members could help – if you are planning a RAAB study please do inform ICEH, Hans Limburg, or IAPB so that we can see if one of the people awaiting certification can be involved in the study.

RAAB Repository

Another recent development is the RAAB repository, which Hans Limburg has developed with support from the Fred Hollows Foundation. Please go to www.RAABData.info and explore the site, I know Hans would welcome your feedback. This is a work-in-progress and data is still being uploaded, but you can find information on all the RAAB studies to date. The repository will be a great resource for epidemiologists, advocates and programme managers.

DR Module

Over the past couple of years a DR module has been developed by ICEH that is an optional module to the standard RAAB v5 or v6 methodology.

Including this does add complexity, cost and time to a standard RAAB but with the enormous increase in diabetes globally, the need for data on diabetic retinopathy becomes ever more important. IAPB has recently secured funding from Bayer to add the DR module onto two RAAB studies in Mexico – we hope preliminary results will be available for the major World Sight Day event in Mexico that IAPB is planning – more news elsewhere.

Other Prevalence Studies

Of course, RAABs are not the only methodology that can be used for prevalence surveys. I was really pleased to hear recently about the plans to conduct prevalence studies in 10 provinces of China. ORBIS is putting a considerable sum into supporting this which is being conducted under the auspices of, and in close partnership, with the National Health and Family Planning Commission.  The studies will start soon and give us a veritable goldmine of information about the prevalence and causes of blindness in the most populous country in the world.

Why is this important to the sector?

IAPB and IAPB Members are investing in this aspect of the GAP because apart from the valuable epidemiological data provided, we believe it can be a catalyst for change and increased investment in eye health.

An example of this was that recently I was able to enjoy a private dinner with Mr. Jun ZHOU - the Director-General in the Medical Administration Bureau, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China. To get such an intimate and prolonged period with someone so senior in the government is a unique opportunity – we talked about the upcoming prevalence studies and the need to use the evidence generated from them to frame future government investment and policy in eye health.  We also talked about the government’s million cataract campaign and the need to build on this to increase the national cataract surgical rate. Mr Zhou was highly engaged and talked of personally attending the prevalence survey results dissemination workshop and supporting potential IAPB meetings in China.  

 
Peter AcklandPeter Ackland,
CEO
 
 
 
 

Commonwealth Health Partnerships & Avoidable Blindness

Commonwealth Health Partnerships 2014, the essential overview of health in the Commonwealth, has a great paper on Avoidable Blindness.

Put together by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust with significant inputs from IAPB, the article gives a great overview of the situation on the Commonwealth countries, IAPB and the Trust's efforts to address them and the impact that the Commonwealth can have on global prevalence of avoidable blindness. The full article is available on the Commonwealth Health website.

"...A big push on the prevention of avoidable blindness will yield major gains. To sustain these gains, eyecare must be permanently strengthened, not separate from but as part of health care, and made accessible to all – this is the way forward."

"...[The Global Action Plan has] a global target of a reduction in prevalence of avoidable blindness and low vision by 25 per cent by 2019, from the baseline of 2010. For the Commonwealth this means we need to reduce the number of persons with blindness or low vision to no more than 78 million by the year 2019, some 20 million fewer than there are now."

A must read.


VISION 2020 Workshops 2013-14 Update

VISION 2020 Workshops programme image

IAPB and the WHO, through the VISION 2020 workshops programme, are focussing on four priority areas in the implementation of the Global Action Plan (GAP). These are:
  • Convening regional workshops to promote implementation of the Global Action Plan in countries across regions. 
  • The development of an eye care services assessment tool by WHO and its subsequent roll out at regional and country level. 
  • The generation of evidence on the prevalence of visual impairment and its causes, through RAAB studies. 
  • Updating the eye medicines included in the essential medicines list. 
The workshops play an important role in the delivery of these and in 2013/14 (See 2013 Report) this has been in two ways. 

Workshops to promote GAP in the IAPB regions

In December 2013 IAPB and WHO held a joint GAP-themed workshop in Brazzaville, Congo to identify priorities for the Africa region and to develop a joint plan of action. The success of this workshop was certainly due to the strong representation from WHO and the representatives from the Ministries of Health from 15 countries. In this workshop the critical areas identified for Africa were Human Resources for eye Health (HReH), Primary Eye Care (PEC) and Health Management Information Systems (HMIS). 
 
In 2014 a regional workshop to roll out GAP and to develop ways to implement it at national level was held in Cairo, Egypt for the Eastern Mediterranean countries. This workshop recommended that all countries in the region develop their national eye health plans by 2014. Several countries in the region had already developed their plans earlier in the year and were able to provide case studies for others to learn from
 
We hope to have a South East Asia regional workshop in partnership with WHO to do the same for countries in that region.
 

Workshops to support GAP delivery

The programme will support generation of evidence on the prevalence of visual impairment and its causes by supporting a RAAB Training of Trainers (ToT) to train 12 new RAAB trainers for the regions of Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean.  This will be the third such training and will help build up a pool of certified RAAB trainers to meet the demand for RAABs from Governments and members. These 12 people will need to be supervised on a RAAB following their training before they can be certified as ‘RAAB trainer’. We are particularly excited that we have 2 Francophone candidates to service this underserved area. 
 
The VISION 2020 workshops programme, running since 1999, is a well-recognised brand, with a pool of committed and loyal supporters from throughout the eye health world – and now further afield in recognition of the importance of a Health Systems approach. These people, who share their time and expertise, are key to the programme’s success.  The programme is flexible, locally owned and can respond to meet the needs expressed locally whilst delivering targeted workshops identified by IAPB and WHO on topics essential to the delivery of GAP. 
 
We have learnt many lessons over the years and I hope we have responded to meet the challenges. We are now strengthening our partnership with WHO, linking GAP, but to also assess longer term results. 
 
Interested in the VISION 2020 Workshops programme? Download the 2014 programme here.
 
Robin Percy
Robin Heber Percy
VISION 2020 Workshop Programme Manager
 
 
 

The 'Diabetic Retinopathy Barometer' project launch, Madrid

The Diabetic Retinopathy Barometer project is gathering information on DR specifically on health practitioners’ and patients’ awareness of Diabetic Retinopathy and access to needed treatment and services, across 40 countries globally. 
I attended the Press Launch on DME and on the DR Barometer Project, supported by Bayer, in Madrid on 12th May, to speak about the DR Barometer project in particular its impact, alongside panellists Lydia Makaroff from International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and Greg Shaw from International Federation of Aging (IFA), the organisations collaborating with IAPB on this innovative project. 
Press event, Madrid
 
The numbers that are available on DR paint a challenging picture:  on average (and taking into account that some of the data is based on extrapolations) 1 in 3 people with diabetes has diabetic retinopathy, 1 in 10 has sight threatening DR. With changing demographics and epidemiological threats, increasing aging populations, and the projected huge rise in prevalence of diabetes (described by Sir Michael Hirst of the IDF speaking at the event as a health Tsunami): the numbers of people at risk of sight loss from DR are set to increase on a major scale. 
 
To stop this threat in its tracks evidence can help to develop the appropriate policy and advocacy responses: health promotion and education to prevent diabetes occurring in the first place, better diagnosis and management of diabetes (blood control/ lipids/ blood pressure) to reduce the risk of co-morbidities including DR, annual national screening programmes, and making the right treatments accessible, affordable, and timely are essential so that prevention of permanent sight loss is possible. 
 
Some of the main points that struck me during the meeting were the need for sensitivity in raising patient’s awareness of potential risks in a manner which encouraged them to take the appropriate steps to manage their health, and also the importance of making treatments affordable and straightforward to use. 
 
The numbers per location now and in the future are and will be hugely determined by patient responses and by the health systems in place – is there adequate investment in health and eye health in country ensuring accessibility for all people, are there sufficient personnel, and to what extent are models of care integrated. 
 
Zoe Gray, Advocacy ManagerZoe Gray,

Advocacy Manager
 
 

WHO and World Bank disappoint in the latest Post-2015 thinking

At the 67th WHA, Assistant Director General Marie-Paule Kieny unveiled WHO’s latest thinking with regard to the health goal in the post-2015 thinking – there is an overall goal of “Ensure healthy lives and universal health coverage at all ages” together with four sub-goals (click on image).Sub-goals
 
Overall, this appears to be shaping up well with some important entry points for those of us especially interested in the health of persons with disabilities, but with one, potentially hugely damaging, omission
 
Some references in the initial targets and indicators outlined for the four sub-goals are very helpful – “80% coverage of NTD interventions”; “treatment of diabetes”; “non-use of tobacco”; “assistive devices for persons with disabilities” and others.  However it is in the detail related to the monitoring of progress towards universal health coverage (UHC), published separately by the WHO and World Bank (Also available in multiple languages) that a serious omission is found. Table 1 on page 9 summarises the indicators and for the important equity measures, data is “stratified by wealth quintile, place of residence and gender” - but no mention of people with disabilities.
 
When challenged about this at the WHA, ADG Kieny’s response was that wealth, residence and gender were the “essential minimum” measures and that countries would be “encouraged” to collect more extensive data that included groups such as persons with disability.
 
This tepid response risks marginalising the 1 billion persons with disability from the otherwise largely commendable ideas contained within the draft health goal thinking.  We all know that anything excluded from the data that must be collected in the final list of targets and indicators for post 2015 will simply not get measured by most countries and nor will it get the development attention required to improve people’s health. 
 
Ironically less than 24 hours later the WHA adopted the excellent “WHO global disability action plan 2014 – 2021: Better health for all people with disability”. The Action Plan states that:

"...men and women with disabilities are twice as likely to find that health care facilities and providers’ skills are inadequate, three times more likely to be denied health care and four times more likely to be treated badly in the health care system. Half of persons with disabilities cannot afford required health care and they are 50% more likely than those without disability to suffer catastrophic health expenditures."

WHO and the World Bank need to rethink – the equity indicators for UHC must be stratified to include persons with disability and other marginalised groups. Failure to do so undermines the fundamental principle of UHC.
 
Peter AcklandPeter Ackland,
CEO
 
 
 
 

The Disability Action Plan at the World Health Assembly 2014WHA67 - image of posters

It’s been heartening to witness the strong support for the “WHO global disability action plan 2014 – 2021: Better health for all people with disability” which was adopted at the 67th WHA this morning (Friday, 23 May 2014). Some 33 countries spoke, all to support the Action Plan, and the resolution, eloquently promoted by Ecuador, was agreed without amendment.
 
The Action Plan lays down an approach that will be strongly supported by members of IAPB and it was good to see some of the points raised by IAPB in the consultation period – such as the inclusion of eye glasses in the section on assistive technology and the strong references to universal health access. The challenge now will be to get some of the approaches of the Action Plan embedded in the post 2015 targets and indicators.
 
Peter AcklandPeter Ackland,
CEO
 
 

The Trust seeks Commonwealth's Support on Avoidable Blindness

98 million people in the Commonwealth are blind or have low vision.
 
In November 2013, avoidable blindness featured at a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting possibly for the first time. Commonwealth Heads of Government endorsed the focus of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust on avoidable blindness, and encouraged it to work with others with the aim of making a “decisive contribution” to the elimination of avoidable blindness.  An ambitious mandate, which the Trust can only deliver with the engagement and support of many others – and first and foremost, Commonwealth Governments themselves.
 
Thus we were delighted that the Trust’s Chief Executive, Dr Astrid Bonfield, had the opportunity to address Commonwealth Health Ministers at their annual gathering on the eve of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and seek their advice and support.
CHOGM 2014
Dr Bonfield spoke about the Trust’s five-year programmes on avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth:
  • The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative, tackling blinding trachoma in Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Pacific, and in Australia;
  • The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Diabetic Retinopathy Initiative in South Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific;
  • The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Retinopathy of Prematurity Initiative in India;
  • The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Fellowships, Research and Technology Initiative to strengthen eye care, including the creation of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, a group of respected eye health institutions from across the Commonwealth 
The World Health Organisation’s Global Action Plan sets out a blueprint for strengthening eye care – essential to sustain and amplify the gains made through the Trust’s and other programmes.  It includes a global target of a reduction in prevalence of avoidable blindness and low vision by 25% by 2019, from the baseline of 2010.   
 
For the Commonwealth this means reducing the number of persons with blindness or low vision to no more than 78m by the year 2019, some 20m fewer than there are now. 
 
Dr Bonfield said:  “Advances in science and knowhow make this achievable.  Numbers are already going down. With commitment and a vast store of varied experience the Commonwealth is well placed to show the way. There should be substantive progress to report to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta in November 2015.”
 
Eleanor Fuller, QEDJT
Eleanor Fuller OBE
Director of Advocacy and Commonwealth Engagement
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
 
 

‘Vision 2014’: Seizing the Opportunity

A few months ago, Maryanne Diamond [Immediate Past President, World Blind Union] invited me to speak at ‘Vision2014’, the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation's 11th International Conference on Low Vision in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this month.
 
As I have never been able to refuse any “request” from Maryanne I accepted quickly (and I am very glad I did)! Of course, I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Melbourne in April, and I learnt a lot from listening to the other speakers.
 
My problem: I was the last speaker at a conference which had enjoyed high quality contributions from a succession of expert practitioners - How could I contribute anything in such a context?
 
Rather than pretending to know more than the experts, I decided to issue a ‘call to arms’: Let us work to maximise the impact of our efforts to the advantage of those whose interests we serve.
 
With collective effort, we have opened some ‘windows of opportunity’ to mobilise resources for vision-related issues; it is now essential that we seize them. The new WHO Global Action Plan, UNCRPD, the post-2015 agenda and bilateral opportunities in countries such as the UK and Australia create the potential to do more and to do it better.
 
The challenge is implementation, particularly at the national level.
 
As President of IAPB, I consider it my duty to advocate that all organisations working in the interests of the vision impaired, need to explore or strengthen partnerships with allied campaigns. Issues like ageing, diabetes and broader disability issues will demand more attention and resources. Rather than competing with them, we should support them and seek to ensure that vision-related issues receive their due care and attention.
 
If we can get the priority - national implementation - right and build the global partnerships we need, we will be able to say we have seized the opportunity. We will be able to feel confident we have maximised the opportunities for a better life for vision impaired people around the world.
 
Thanks for the invitation Maryanne.
BoB McMullan, IAPB President
 
Bob McMullan,
President, IAPB
 
 

IAPB Board meets in Singapore

The IAPB Board of Trustees met in Singapore on 28-29 March for their first meeting of 2014. The meeting began with the formal approval of new members (listed below) and appointment of new trustees.IAPB BoT at SERI

Peter Ackland gave the CEO report, in which he highlighted the development of an infographic and short video to support advocacy for the Global Action Plan. He also talked about the proposals to the Qatari Government to fund pediatric eye care in South East Asia and trachoma elimination in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The theme and call to action for World Sight Day 2014, falling this year on 9 October, were also presented: the rolling theme of ‘Universal Eye Health’, in line with the focus of the new Global Action Plan, continued, with the call to action being ‘No more Avoidable Blindness’ – this would allow organisations to focus on disease areas relevant to them by customising the call to, for example, ‘No more Cataract’ or ‘No more Trachoma’.

A large part of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the ongoing membership and governance review. Richard Bennett, the consultant leading the review, reported on the results of the consultation in which members were asked about four different scenarios for IAPB’s membership and governance models. The responses pointed towards a desire for some degree of change, particularly to increase members’ engagement and ownership, and foster transparency of processes and decision-making. The board discussed at length a few key aspects such as the role of the board and its composition, ways to balance participation and engagement in governance with effective decision-making, the role of regional chairs and fee structures. Detailed feedback will soon be circulated to the members.

The dates for the 10th General Assembly (10GA) were also announced – the quadrennial key gathering for the eye health community will take place on 18-20 September 2016 in Durban, South Africa.

IAPB staff and board would like to thank the Singapore Eye Research Institute for hosting the meeting. Their work, support, contributions and warm welcome were instrumental to make this a successful, productive and enjoyable event.

(A more detailed version of the report is available here)

Welcome to our latest members:

 

Alessandro Di Capua

Membership Manager, IAPB

 

 


New UK Govt report focuses attention on disability

The UK House of Commons’ International Development Committee has recently released a report on its inquiry into disability and development. The report includes a number of recommendations to strengthen the UK government’s response to disability in its development and humanitarian work. Disability & Development report, IDC
 
One element of any successful medium term strategy for mobilising more global resources for the prevention of blindness must include convincing the major donors to lift their priority on disability and development. Therefore the decision by the International Development Committee to conduct an inquiry into disability and development was a welcome and important opportunity.
 
A number of IAPB members had made submissions and it is clear from the report that those submissions had an impact.
 
I had the opportunity to appear before the Committee to provide evidence this January. In the context of a broader contribution on disability and development, I was able to stress the importance of prevention and rehabilitation in addition to the essential focus on rights and services.
 
I am pleased to see this priority reflected in the final report.
 
Very positively, the report recognises the importance of considering prevention and treatment to “minimise the adverse impact of disability on development.” The report also makes the link between access to prevention, rehabilitation and treatment and access to other rights for people with disabilities.
 
While the focus is more general than specifically about vision issues, the combined impact of IAPB’s contributions can be seen in the references to the significance of sight restoring surgery and to the importance of trachoma amongst neglected tropical diseases.
 
The committee did a conscientious and intelligent job.
 
Most importantly they called for DFID to develop a Disability and Development Strategy so disability inclusion and attention to these significant challenges are made a priority. The next key step is to see DFID’s response. It is vital that we work with others in the disability and development community to ensure the potential generated by this important report is realised.
 
BoB McMullan, IAPB President
 
Bob McMullan,
President, IAPB
 
 

GBD Data: A good news story

We now have two sets of global estimates on the magnitude, prevalence and causes of blindness – the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Vision loss expert group and the World Health Organization’s Prevention of Blindness and Deafness Unit (WHO PBD) estimates.

graph from Briefin paper on GBD

 
The WHO PBD team released their estimates in 1995, 2002/4 and 2010. The GBD group has now created a ‘global vision database’, the largest systematic review of population-based published and unpublished data on vision impairment and blindness published between 1980 and 2012, and has brought out detailed estimates covering the period 1990 to 2010.
 
(A comparison of these datasets is available here: IAPB Briefing Paper on GBD data by Dr Kate Taylor)
 
A caution: Using estimates of the number of blind persons in the earlier PBD studies and comparing them with estimates for the number of blind persons from the 2010 GBD data set is not appropriate and can give rise to spurious claims.
 
The GBD data set presents a “good news” story:
  • In 2010 there were nearly 100 million people fewer people who were blind or having severe or moderate visual impairment than would have been expected. 
  • Prevalence of blindness and visual impairment over the past twenty years – both globally and in every region – is declining. This is the most powerful evidence that the fight to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment is being won
  • The underlying rates of blindness in the low income countries is considerably greater than in high income countries
  • The number of blind people in the world – 32 million. Those with moderate and severe visual impairment – 191 million. Total: 223.4 million
The GBD vision loss data can be used for the setting of priorities, advocacy, development of policies and planning.
 
IAPB now has a new Briefing Paper that builds a case for using the GBD data for these purposes. Do download the new IAPB Briefing Paper on GBD Numbers and Prevalence and use it in your work.
 
Peter AcklandPeter Ackland,
CEO
 
 
 
 

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