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Published: 07.06.2023
Junu Shrestha Policy and Advocacy Manager

IAPB participated in this year’s World Health Assembly, which was held from 21-30 May in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHA is the highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from its 194 member states. WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and also includes participation from civil society, and bilateral and multilateral organizations. This year, as WHO is celebrating its 75th anniversary, the theme of the Health Assembly was: WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all.

The WHA follows a clear agenda, during which the issue of eye health is not often referenced, despite the importance of eye health within issues of global health. As such, IAPB delivered the first ever constituency (group) statement at the WHO governing bodies meeting.

The statement was presented during the discussion of the agenda item on prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (Agenda 13.2), and was made by IAPB Policy & Advocacy Manager, Junu Shrestha. The statement welcomed the WHO’s updated menu of policy options and cost-effective interventions while highlighting the non-communicable eye conditions, such as Diabetic Retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, complications of high myopia and rare eye diseases impact increasing numbers of people worldwide. These pose significant challenge to health systems. The statement urged member states to strengthen health care services to ensure timely diagnosis and access to treatments to prevent potential vision loss by integrating eye health services within the health care system. The statement was supported by 7 organisations.

The member states went on to endorse a new menu of cost-effective interventions for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases1 at the WHA which includes interventions on DR screening and treatment; and early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of retinoblastoma, one of the six index childhood cancers.

IAPB also joined the constituency statement under the agenda item 15.1 “Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies” wherein urged member states to include eye health into the essential health services and ensure access to them.

In addition to the main discussions of the agenda and the election of the WHO executive board, the WHA was packed with numerous side events and strategic roundtables. These were good opportunities for networking, meeting policy makers and building partnerships to take on the conversations about strengthening eye health services in countries and implementing WHA resolutions on eye health.

12022 update of Appendix 3 of the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2030

Watch the statements here (Committee A, Tenth meeting Time: 51.00- 54.15).