It is sometimes difficult when there is so much going on in the world that seems to transcend our endeavours, to remain focused on the importance of our work. Despite this, so much progress has been made over the past year by the IAPB and its members to elevate eye health in the consciousness of those who can make a difference. Our message on the importance of the part it plays in the wider health picture of individuals and of how crucial it is that it should be integrated into existing health structures, is gathering momentum.
A particular highlight of this year was the 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE meeting in Singapore in June. Not only were there a large number of delegates attending – experts and thought leaders from eye health and development organisations, but we broke new ground with the inclusion of representatives from sectors outside our own. This collaborative approach is the way forward in creating effective solutions to the challenges we face in implementing the 2030 In Sight goals by 2023.
This baton has been taken up to great effect across many regions where events, conferences and implementations of the strategy have been taking place all year and show the extent to which people are committed to playing a part in making equitable, accessible and affordable eye care available to all who need it.
The theme of this year’s World Sight Day was the provision of eye care in the workplace. With the International Labour Organisation’s recent report that revealed that 13 million employees are living with visual impairment that is occupational in origin, this focus was timely. The day itself and the attention it generated across all platforms was phenomenal, with everyone from individuals to large organisations spreading the word about what good vision enables them to do. From truck drivers in Pakistan to bead workers in Kenya, people spoke up about the difference having something as apparently simple as a pair of glasses has made to their ability to support themselves and their families and to be confident members of their communities.
I have been very pleased to see the membership of the IAPB growing over the last twelve months. More and more people are understanding the value of working together to meet the challenges. More and more people are recognising that our strength lies not only in what we can bring as individuals but what we will be able to achieve together.
I look forward to the year ahead and continuing to build on the progress we have made.