Yuddha Sapkota South East Asia Regional Manager IAPB
Eye heath was included into Nepal’s National Health Policy in 2019. Subsequently, it endorsed the WHO’s World Report on Vision in 2020. This has paved the road to develop a National Eye Health Strategy which was approved by the cabinet in 2023.
Nepal is one of the few countries where a nationwide blindness survey is carried out as evidence on blindness and visual impairment in regular intervals. In 1981 Prevalence of blindness was 0.84%, 2010 prevalence of blindness was 0.35% and in 2022 it was 0.28%. While comparing the findings of the nationwide Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness survey conducted in 2010 and 2022 the effective cataract surgical coverage (eCSC) was 15%-point increase. This data is not available for many countries in the region. The 2022 survey shows that eCSC data for visual acuity cutoff 6/12 (WHA 74 endorsed) for Nepal was 35.4%, which serves as a baseline information to set the target 30%-point increase which should be achieved by 2030 as 65.4%.
According to the WHO published Eye Care in Health System: Guide for Action, Nepal is in pathway as suggested. It has already endorsed World Report on Vision, eye health is now integrated into health policy, High Level Committee on Eye Health has been formed at Ministry of Health to improve eye health governance, Eye Health evidences and data are readily available to incorporate global eye health indicators and target, Situation analysis on eye care is underway with support from the WHO country office using WHO Eye Care Assessment Tool (ECSAT – II) and Technical working group with relevant experts has been formed to work on National Eye Health Action Plan for 2030.
Image on top: Nepali sisters running and playing together share a moment and their smiles with us as we visit their village in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal./Julie-Anne Davis