What a great honor and privilege it has been to serve as IAPB’s Vice President these last six years. IAPB is going from strength to strength and together with WHO and the UN, eye health is gaining great importance in the global health community.
Being involved with IAPB since 1980 and attending every Global Assembly since 1982, I have seen firsthand the tremendous growth of IAPB from fewer than 15 members to over 150. IAPB’s strong partnership with WHO goes back to Dr. Mario Tarizzo, the first head of what was the WHO’s Trachoma Task Force which became the WHO Programme for Prevention of Blindness in 1978. His successor Dr. Bjorn Thylefors was instrumental in the launch of “VISION2020: The Right to Sight” by WHO Director General Dr. Gro Harlem-Brundtland with great fanfare at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in 1999. Then came Dr. Serge Resnikoff followed by the able Drs. Ivo Kocur and Silvio Mariotti who continued our close relationship with WHO. Dr. Alarcos Cieza has led the charge at WHO to launch the “World Report on Vision” on World Sight Day in 2019; and Amb. Aubrey Webson, a great friend of IAPB for many years, founded the UN Friends of Vision and set the UN on a path to passing a resolution elevating eye health to global importance.
But back to IAPB, it has had many leaders over the years, all in my opinion, the right people for their time. I have very much enjoyed working with Bob McMullan and Peter Holland. I believe Bob’s most impactful achievement was opening seats on IAPB’s Board of Trustees to members of Group B and C which only happened in 2014 during the CoM in Paris. It was overdue in my view and I believe that decision and others have led to greater participation by all members across the agency.
Having the privilege of working closely with Peter, Nick Parker, Joanna Conlon, and the wonderful Rachael Bourke, Saloni Nagpaul and Tejah Balantrapu in the membership and communications sections, I see how professional, efficient, and effective the team is, and especially during the challenges of the pandemic. Working with Jude Stern and the amazing Jessica Crofts-Lawrence who continue to deliver valuable tools and advocacy for the membership is thrilling really. There are others on the team who support the IAPB Secretariat and Board for which we can be most thankful.
I will miss operating at the leadership level, but time marches on and I know that IAPB is in great hands with Caroline Casey, my successor Babar Qureshi, Debra Davis and Peter and his team, and of course, the Board of Trustees. I look forward to seeing you all again when we can gather and carry on the personal interactions that have made being part of IAPB such a rich experience. I am very proud of you all and I know those who came before me feel the same way whether still with us or from the great beyond.
With respect and affection,
Victoria M. Sheffield
IAPB Vice President, 2015-2021