I step down from the role of President of IAPB with a sense of gratitude and fulfillment. Gratitude to the many friends I have made across the sector’s leadership, and indeed, the many professionals across ranks I had the opportunity to interact with. The fulfillment comes from working with these outstanding individuals to navigate the sector through successes and challenges over my two terms as IAPB President.
My first brush with the potential and promise of eye care was with the establishment of the Avoidable Blindness Initiative when I was playing an active role in Australian politics. Over the next few years, the initiative changed the lives of millions across a number of countries. The impact was diverse, ranging from school health and gender equity to inclusion and productivity gains. The many stories of impact and change I heard from Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Timor Leste, the Pacific islands and Australia over the years continues to give me joy and happiness. I knew then, as I know now: eye health changes lives for the better.
IAPB is best positioned to take this message to the world. Together, with a spirit of cooperation and partnership spanning four decades, this membership alliance has been an example for the impact investments in eye health can have on people’s lives. We have built a growing consensus in the health sector through a series of World Health Assembly resolutions over the years. The alliance itself has grown more diverse, the IAPB board growing to include a variety of organisations from across the world. We have worked to support and increase diversity, and I am proud of our achievements, though I acknowledge that much more is necessary.
I must thank my colleagues on the board, Victoria Sheffield, the outgoing Vice President and Debra Davis, the treasurer, for all their support, they are both outstanding individuals. My best wishes to IAPB’s Chief Executive Peter Holland and the new President Caroline Casey as they work with the board to navigate IAPB into a new and exciting future. The outgoing board has many excellent individuals and it was my pleasure to work with them over the years. I wish the IAPB team, the new Board, and the wider membership all the very best as they begin work on a new strategy and an ambitious new direction for eye health. Even as I move on, eye health will remain close to my heart, and I look forward to celebrating your successes in the future. Farewell.