Professor Hugh Taylor is undoubtedly a major driver and contributor to the success of the Vision2020: The Right to Sight global initiative. He has attended each of IAPB’s General Assemblies from 1978 and attended IAPB Board meetings from 1982-2018. Hugh was Vice President of the IAPB from 2008-2012.
With the Task Force of IAPB, Hugh was instrumental in designing the Vision 2020 program and was present to launch it in Geneva and Beijing in 1999. That year, Hugh and Brien Holden formed Vision 2020 Australia as initial co-chairs. Hugh became deputy chair and remained on that board until 2018; guiding it from infancy into the highly successful advocacy organisation that it is today.
Hugh was Regional Chair for the Western Pacific, 1999 to 2007. This was a pivotal time for the region. Hugh’s regional leadership with a national focus created visibility of the issues and an emphasis on the solutions. During this time, national monitoring bodies and national frameworks for the provision of eye health infrastructure and services were developed. Catalysed by Hugh’s leadership in the region, the prevalence of age specific avoidable blindness has been significantly reduced and awareness of emerging issues in eye care has increased significantly as a direct result of advocacy and building the evidence base.
Hugh has served WHO in many capacities as a consultant, advisor and committee member since 1980. He was Associate Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness at the Dana Center in Baltimore for 10 years and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre at CERA in Melbourne for 16 years. He has been active in work on trachoma including the development of the SAFE Strategy and Simplified Trachoma Grading. His research work laid the basis for trichiasis surgery methods, the importance of facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. Hugh also lead the studies leading to the registration of ivermectin for onchocerciasis.
Hugh’s research work demonstrated the adverse effects of UV-B in causing cataract that led to warnings and promotion of sunglasses. He showed the effect of smoking on cataract and AMD leading to the inclusion of warnings about smoking and AMD on cigarette packets.
In 2008, Hugh stepped down as Director of CERA to start the Indigenous Eye Health Unit in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. With a goal to close the gap for vision and provide equity in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this work has significantly increased eye services, halved the gap for vision and dramatically reduced trachoma rates.
Hugh’s determination and dedication to the elimination of preventable blindness has been unwavering in the past 40-plus years and a significant contributing success factor to the achievements of the Vision2020 campaign. Hugh has been critical to the strategic development of a global movement and has driven for systemic change at grass roots level. His vision and leadership have inspired and guided the next generation of professionals to continue to strive for the goals of Vision2020.