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In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the Resolution 70/1, Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This historic document laid out the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Each year, member states are encouraged to conduct “regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven”. These Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) serve as the basis for regular reviews by the United Nation’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and are important tools that help facilitate the sharing of experiences and critical reflections around challenges, successes and lessons learned.
Currently, eye health doesn’t feature within the 169 targets and 232 indicators of the SDG monitoring framework. However, reference to eye health within a Voluntary National Review presents an opportunity to elevate the position of eyecare within the global framework on sustainable development. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly resolution 75/310 Vision for Everyone: accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals reframed vision as a basis for sustainable development and urged Member States to take eye health into consideration in their VNRs as part of the implementation of the resolution. In addition, the two eye health targets for 2030, adopted at the 74th World Health Assembly, provide essential tools for tracking and reporting eye health progress as well as supporting national efforts towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and other SDGs.
This year, 41 Member states have agreed to present their VNR at the United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF). Inclusion of eye health in the VNR process is paramount and in the absence of national data on the global targets, the link between eye health and the SDGs can be addressed in national plans, programmes, and agendas. For instance, vision and road safety measures, school eye test programmes, or women and girls’ equitable access to healthcare facilities can all be reported on.
Vision is a fundamental, economic, social and development issue. It runs through the SDGs and is a vital part of reducing poverty, improving productivity, increasing access to education and work, and improving gender equity and wider equality. Addressing eye health is a highly cost-effective means of unlocking human potential; enabling children to gain an education, working age adults to get and keep a job; and improving equality for women and girls, who are more likely to suﬀer poor vision and less likely to get treatment.