2022 has been a year of hope and challenges as we began to re-build and tackle the backlogs in care created by the pandemic. One of the joys of the year was being able meet in person for the first time since 2019. It was wonderful that so many people were able to join us in Dubai at 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE, where we introduced our new sector strategy, 2030 In Sight. The event, with the support of our partners Noor Dubai and Seva Foundation brought together IAPB members from around the world both in person, and virtually. It kick-started important conversations about how we must work together to eliminate avoidable sight loss by 2030 and see a world where:
- No-one experiences unnecessary or preventable sight loss and everyone can achieve their full potential.
- Eye care and rehabilitation services are accessible, inclusive, and affordable to everyone, everywhere, whenever they are needed, and
- People understand the importance of caring for their own eye health and demand access to services, free from the weight of any social stigma.
Building on last year’s landmark resolution on vision at the UN General Assembly, we continue to make progress in elevating eye health on the global agenda as critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Commonwealth Heads of Government renewed their commitment to eye health at their meeting in Rwanda in June including finishing the job on trachoma. Along with Commonwealth Education ministers, they also emphasised the importance of child and school eye health. At the UN, we also successfully advocated for the inclusion of eye health in the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Improving Global Road Safety “The 2030 horizon for road safety: securing a decade of action and delivery” reinforcing eye health’s importance as a cross-cutting development issue.
We are now pushing hard to secure the appointment of a UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Vision. A Special Envoy would give real impetus to making the case with global institutions and national governments to invest in eye care and keep eye health on the agenda at the highest levels. I’m enormously grateful to the many members who have signed our petition in support of the Special Envoy.
Our public campaigning efforts play an increasingly important role in raising the profile of eye health and supporting our advocacy work. This year, World Sight Day, part of our Love Your Eyes campaign was our biggest yet. Organisations and individuals pledged their sight tests in the month leading up to World Sight Day, with over 6.8 million pledges being submitted. Members organised nearly 20 parliamentary screenings worldwide culminating in an event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with the UN Friends of Vision. Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the enormous success of this year’s World Sight Day, which is cementing itself as a truly global awareness day.
We launched the Love Your Eyes campaign actions earlier this year, calling on government and industry leaders to focus on three key areas – accessible eye care; available sight tests; and affordable glasses. As part of the global campaign launch, we highlighted several programmes and initiatives led by our members in India and Kenya who are leading the way in providing accessible, available and affordable eye care.
Of course, the challenge is to translate these global commitments into regional and national action. We are seeing progress, including a regional action plan for integrated people centered eye care which was published in South East Asia; primary eye care training was integrated into nursing curricula in East, Central and Southern Africa; and 2030 In Sight policy dialogues took place in over 20 countries globally this year, highlighting eye health as a development issue.
We also launched the IAPB knowledge hub which contains resources, tools and guides on specific areas of global eye health and 2030 In Sight. We encourage members to contribute their own knowledge and expertise to this, as well as utilise the resources within it and share within your own networks.
The enormous global challenges that confront us mean that, more than ever, it is critical we work together to achieve our collective mission of ending avoidable sight loss by 2030. I do hope that you can join us at our global event 2030 In Sight Live, taking place in Singapore on 25 and 26 June 2023. This will be a great opportunity for us to come together, towards achieving our shared goal.
Thank you for all your support over the past year and I wish you all the very best for 2023.