Beyond Eyes, the third session of the Advocacy to Action programme was held on 1 June 2021 with participation from over 100 professionals from 52 countries. The webinar brought together leaders from within and beyond the eye health sector to discuss the positioning of eye health as an integral part of the development agenda. Focussing on the Sustainable Development Goals, the session considered the re-framing of eye health as a broader development issue impacting not only health but also education, employment, equity, poverty and the other SDGs.
The panel included Imran A. Khan, Director of Programme Strategy & Development, Sightsavers, Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing, Kate Norgrove – Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF-UK, Labrini Papageorgiou, Global Access Policy Leader, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, and Stanley Bubikire, Assistant Commissioner of Health Services/ National eye Health coordinator, Min. of Health-Uganda.
The panel acknowledged the crucial and ground-breaking initiatives undertaken in eye health advocacy in the recent past, the World Report on Vision, the evidence from The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health, adoption of two ambitious global targets for eye health at the 74th World Health Assembly, which, now has paved the way for a significant momentum shift in raising awareness, understanding and commitment to eye health as a key social, economic and development issue. The panel also commented on the imminent first United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Vision, which is now in the final stages of negotiations by the member states.
Kate Norgrove reflected on some invaluable lessons she learned on advocacy approaches and framing issues in the context of sustainable development issue during her talk. Jane Barratt, emphasized how investment in prevention, access and equity will give rise to equalities across all age groups and promote the social and economic contributions of citizens. Labrini Papageorgiou reiterated the need to act urgently to reduce the impact on individuals, societies and economies due to vision impairment and stressed on how crucial eye health is to achieving the SDG’s.
Dr Stanley and Dr Imran, both agreed on the connection between good eye health and progressing to the SDG’s. Quoting several examples of success as well as challenges; and deliberations on the progress in advocating for eye health, the panel concluded that ‘Eye health is everyone’s business, and it is important to think beyond eyes’.
Watch the webinar recording here and welcome you to register for the next webinar in this series Strategies and Tactics on Tuesday, 3 August 2021.