One of the reasons I joined the eye health sector is because I can relate to some challenges faced by a person with vision impairment. Growing up as a child with Myopia in Pakistan had its ups and downs, and even after the vision correction, continuing to wear eyeglasses was a struggle due to many societal and cultural barriers. Thanks to timely interventions, I realised the importance of eye care. However, this is not the case for everyone. Access to eye care and eyeglasses can be challenging, particularly in low- and middle-income settings. This is why now my dream is that everyone, no matter where they live, receives the eye care they need so they can go on to fulfil their potential.
Right now, there are 2.2 billion people who have a vision impairment, but almost half of this is preventable or treatable. We know what the solutions are to address the global eye health burden and as a sector, we are very fortunate that we work with a large number of stakeholders who each bring different strengths to the table. The IAPB 2030 In Sight: Ending Avoidable Sight Loss strategy is a renewed opportunity for us all to come together and address the global eye health crisis which is brewing under the surface. The strategy in conjunction with the WHO World Report on Vision, the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health, and the recent United Nations General Assembly resolution on vision, means that we increasingly have the evidence, the political will, global momentum and the roadmap to deliver our joint goals.
At Sightsavers, we firmly believe in collaboration and we are committed to playing our part in supporting the implementation of 2030 In Sight to improve access to eye care and maximise the impact. We recently launched our new programme and thematic strategies and can notice a significant alignment between the strategic goals of IAPB and our strategies. By ensuring that our programmes leave no one behind, are evidence-informed, and support systems strengthening by focusing on integration, sustainability and scale, we will be contributing to 2030 In Sight’s approach – elevate, integrate and activate. Our work on incorporating disability-inclusive, gender-responsive and environmentally sustainable approaches in the programmes and engaging with multisectoral partners, including the private sector, also complements the essence of IAPB’s strategic approach. How we facilitate and ensure that these global strategies translate into action at the regional, national and provincial levels is going to be the key to success. This is where our country teams along with all relevant local stakeholders and partners including communities will play a critical role to ensure the delivery of integrated people-centred eye care for ALL.
We have a long way to go but in this time of building back better and equal, by working together and promoting coherence and strategic alignment, we can move towards eliminating unaddressed vision impairment and contribute to universal health coverage.
Image on top: Envisioning a better tomorrow/ Vaebhav Badola