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2020 in Review: Resilience!

Victoria Sheffield, our Vice-President recaps 2020 at IAPB and dubs it a year of Resilience.
Published: 27.11.2020
Victoria Sheffield Vice-President

IAPB is many things and resilient is one of them.  2020 was meant to be a very different year and we have been challenged as never before in our lifetime.  We have adapted in creative ways, followed the science and government directives, and collaborated to continue implementing our sight-saving programmes.  IAPB’s President Bob McMullan, CEO Peter Holland, and the Secretariat have led and we can all be proud of what has been accomplished!

COVID-19IAPB adapted to support our members by forming a COVID-19 Task Force early this year and set up a “Resources Page” on the website to share WHO, CDC and other critical guidelines as well as to share how members were adapting and being resilient.

Board:  The terms of the Board members and officers were extended through 2021 for continuity since we could not meet in Singapore this year.  The Search Committee for IAPB’s next President completed its work and a recommendation will be made for the election process early next year which will include nominations from the membership for officer or regional positions.

11th Global Assembly:  For the health and safety of IAPB and its members, the 11th GA in Singapore was postponed for 2020 and cancelled for 2021.  We will be convening face to face meetings again as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we are planning a range of virtual activities next year centred around our knowledge services, advocacy and communications to bring the sector together.

WHO:  We cheer the World Health Assembly Resolution on Integrated People-Centered Eye Care which was adopted in August with over 40 Member States as co-sponsors!  Following on the WHO’s World Report on Vision launched on World Sight Day 2019, WHO is consulting with Member States to set global targets for eye health to be adopted at the WHO Executive Board in January 2021 which will then be adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2021.

UN:  Amb. Aubrey Webson, UN representative of Antigua and Barbuda and founder of the UN Friends of Vision, is championing with IAPB the first ever United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Eye Health with support from Ireland and Bangladesh!

Vision for the Commonwealth:  Whilst the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting  in Kigali, Rwanda in June was postponed, the Vision for the Commonwealth group had been championing school eye health and IAPB remains committed to supporting this effort.

Assistive Technology:  IAPB is liaising ATScale’s Global Assistive Technology and others in the sector, and is considering developing a Refractive Error Coalition in 2021.

Knowledge Sharing:  Over the past 8 months, IAPB ran an extensive COVID-19 and Eye Health webinar series with 10 live webinars and 6 recorded interviews.  Two were in French and audiences were 120-300 at each live webinar with live streams on social media reaching over 3,000 views!  Also check out the Resource Library on the website.

VISION ATLAS 2.0:  IAPB’s new Vision Atlas on a digital platform was launched on World Sight Day this year and is chock full of global, regional and county data from the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG).  It is an invaluable tool for writing proposals and articles and to feed your curiosity.

LANCET Global Commission on Eye Health:  With support from IAPB, this milestone publication with new VLEG data will come out in early 2021.

Clearly MergerClearly founded by James Chen will merge into IAPB (on 4th January 2021) and will transfer assets including communications staff to strengthen IAPB’s global advocacy for Eye Health.

VISION CATALYST FUND:  Founding partners Standard Chartered Bank, UBS, Essilor, James Chen and IAPB aim to strengthen health systems and build markets to provide greater access to quality eye care.

SEEING IS BELIEVING (SiB):  Standard Chartered Bank’s SiB project launched in 2003 comes to an end this year having reached 291.7 million people around the world through grants to IAPB members.  We are extremely grateful to SiB for their impact on reducing rates of blindness and visual impairment in our world.

WORLD SIGHT DAY 2020IAPB members held webinars, virtual meetings and some even held live screenings with all precautions to celebrate our special day.  Along with the launch of the Vision Atlas 2.0, member advocacy was front and center on 8 October 2020!

AWARDS:  IAPB managed to celebrate virtually 54 Eye Health Heroes on 17 September with awards to 17 Change-Makers, 14 Innovators, and 23 Future Leaders, all under age 35 – our future is bright!

Learn more about all of these initiatives at and take advantage of the great recourses IAPB has to offer.  We end 2020 with mixed emotions, but resilience is IAPB and who we all are.  Enjoy your holidays, stay safe, and know that IAPB is hard at work for our future!

Disclaimer: The views, ideas, technologies or policy positions in these blog posts belong to the authors and do not necessarily describe IAPB’s position or views on these matters.