In 2021, a momentous milestone was achieved as the United Nations passed the ‘Vision for Everyone; accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ Resolution, recognizing eye health as a vital component in attaining the SDGs. As we approach the halfway mark towards achieving the SDGs, it is essential to reflect on the progress made in eye health and its impact on global development. Looking forward, it becomes increasingly important to assess advancements in eye health and identify transformative actions and accelerators for further progress.
At the recent 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE event, hosted by IAPB in Singapore, a dedicated session focusing on the halfway point to the SDGs was held. During this session, the significance of integrating eye health into the SDG agenda was emphasized, with a strong emphasis on collaboration, partnerships, and adopting a humanitarian perspective as essential elements for achieving comprehensive and sustainable progress.
To accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, the session highlighted five critical actions that still need to happen:
- Collaboration within and across sectors: It is essential to foster collaboration beyond the UN platform and raise awareness to address eye health challenges. Breaking free from vertical approaches and aligning eye care with global development priorities from a broader humanitarian perspective is crucial.
- Embracing public-private partnerships: Advancing eye health requires active involvement and collaboration between public and private sectors. By co-creating policies, breaking barriers, and overcoming silos collectively, we can achieve our targets. Recognizing the significance of corporations, collaborations, and financial investments is vital.
- Engaging governments and including global targets: Governments play a fundamental role in incorporating eye health targets into national agendas. Recognizing the achievements and campaigns led by NGOs and the private sector is essential. Eye health should be included in the broader development agenda, with emphasis on SDG 17, highlighting the value of partnerships for sustainable development.
- Listening to marginalized voices: Shaping effective eye health strategies requires actively listening to the voices and experiences of indigenous communities. The active participation of government representatives in discussions is crucial for driving meaningful change. By involving governments, we can enhance policy implementation and achieve systemic impact.
- Recognizing the humanity in eye care: Beyond the technical aspects, kindness, service, and compassion should be at the core of our approach to eye care. Prioritizing the holistic needs of individuals and fostering solidarity can lead to sustainable and inclusive eye health systems.
As we strive to achieve the SDGs, prioritizing eye health within the broader development agenda is essential. Through collaboration, partnerships, and a development perspective, we can drive transformative actions that accelerate progress. By actively engaging with governments, listening to marginalized voices, and recognizing the importance of humanity within eye care, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.
The UNGA Resolution on Vision was a ground-breaking step towards prioritizing eye health as an essential aspect of sustainable development. By recognizing the importance of good vision, the resolution demonstrates a commitment to ensuring universal access to eye care services, promoting eye health, and addressing vision impairments worldwide. While commendable progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to achieve universal access to quality eye care services. Continuing to invest in eye health, data collection, fostering partnerships, and addressing the challenges will enable us to make significant strides towards a world where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy clear vision and a better quality of life.