The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has had another significant year in pursuit of our mission of eliminating preventable sight loss.
We were delighted to begin the year by winning two awards: The Association Awards, organised by the Association of Association Executives (AAE), for Association of the Year, and Best Campaign of the Year for the Love Your Eyes campaign. They are an outstanding recognition of the work our members have done across the world in promoting the importance of eye health and vision.
Throughout 2023, eye health continued to be on the agenda at the United Nations. One of the more notable achievements of the year was a high-level meeting held in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting brought world leaders and decision makers together to discuss the ‘Value of Vision’. Led by Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and attended by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister of Nepal, Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, and ministerial representatives from over 15 countries, the event highlighted the vital importance of eye health as a fundamental development issue critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It was a high-quality discussion with everyone participating actively. It demonstrated real interest in eye health from senior global leaders and a commitment to take action.
We are also seeing practical developments. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), IAPB launched a joint policy brief titled “Eye Health and the World of Work.” The report provided valuable guidance and recommendations for businesses to protect employees’ eyes and promote good eye health in the workplace. The initiative was championed during World Sight Day, with the theme “Love Your Eyes at Work,” which encouraged workplace screenings and garnered significant media attention. It lays the groundwork for continued advocacy in the workplace, and we are exploring a long-term strategic partnership with the ILO. Similarly, UN Women and The Fred Hollows Foundation launched their new policy brief “No women left behind: Closing the gender and inclusion gap in eye health” in September and are continuing to develop their work.
To coincide with World Sight Day, the UN also played host to a remarkable exhibition of photos titled, ‘2030 IN SIGHT’, which presented the world through the eyes of those living with sight loss. It invited people to consider the direct implications of avoidable and treatable eye health conditions on individuals, their communities, and on progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
World Sight Day itself was bigger and better than ever. The theme of “Love Your Eyes at Work” drew attention to the importance of promoting good eye health in the workplace. There were many workplace screenings around the world and the campaign received significant media attention in Kenya and India. There were over 13 million pledges to Love Your Eyes worldwide in the run-up to World Sight Day, exceeding the target of 10 million and we reached an audience of nearly 500 million people on social media. I would like to thank all our members who made World Sight Day such a success.
IAPB continued to expand its global reach by forging new strategic partnerships with key organisations. A collaboration letter of intent signed with the Pan American Academy of Ophthalmology (PAAO) marked a new era of cooperation to address avoidable sight loss in Latin America. Additionally, IAPB hosted its first North American regional meeting to discuss the implementation of the 2030 In Sight Strategy at a national and international level. And we have agreed on a ground-breaking new partnership with the Islamic Development Bank to promote systems change and integrated eye care in Francophone Africa.
IAPB’s annual global event, 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE, hosted in partnership with the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), brought together over 300 delegates from around the world to advance the sector strategy, mobilize action, and strengthen connections among members. The event, a highlight on our global calendar, was a fantastic success. I would like to thank all the speakers and everyone who joined us for taking part so enthusiastically and sharing their knowledge, experience and passion. I would particularly like to thank SNEC and SERI for being such outstanding hosts.
The transformative potential of technology in shaping the future of eye care is often front and centre of IAPB Knowledge efforts. The launch of the IAPB Technology for Access Guide during the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) congress has provided a comprehensive resource for understanding, analysing, and adopting emerging technologies that can revolutionize eye care delivery. The Knowledge team, working closely with members, has also developed and launched a set of targets and indicators to measure progress on delivering the 2030 In Sight Strategy. We have begun collecting the data to inform these measures and will report on them as part of the next version of the Vision Atlas.
As IAPB embarks on 2024, a key focus for our work will be to translate global commitments into tangible action at the regional and national levels. There has been considerable progress this year including: regional meetings in Africa, Latin America, South East Asia and West Pacific; the first-ever eye health summit in Ghana; systems changes workshops in Colombia for a number of our Latin American members and in Laos; the endorsement of an IPEC regional action plan at a South East Asia ministerial meeting; Nepal adopting the global cataract target in national health strategic plan; and an advocacy network under development in the Pacific Islands.
We are delighted that 30 new members have joined us this year from all around the world. I hope that many of them and many of you will join us at our 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE event on 25-27 June in Mexico City. It will be another great opportunity to meet, share experiences and work together on our shared mission of eliminating avoidable sight loss. I look forward to seeing you there.
I would like to thank all our members, partners and supporters for their commitment and support throughout 2023. I wish you all the very best for 2024.