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WHO 152EB: Focusing Attention on Eye Health as Health and Beyond

Published: 22.02.2023
Junu Shreshta Policy & Advocacy Manager
Junu Shreshta at the WHO session looking at a laptop

The 152nd session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization took place during the first week of February. The Executive Board, made up of 34 member states, advanced around 50 agenda items and over 30 resolutions and decisions, and agreed to advance resolutions at the upcoming World Health Assembly in May.

This year, IAPB focused the attention of the WHO’s governing bodies towards the existing blindness and vision impairment in the world. On behalf of the global eye health sector, we made three statements at the WHO Executive Board meeting:

  • In preparation for the second high-level UN Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), we called on member states to accelerate efforts to include eye health services within the health financing system and implement Integrated People-centred Eye Care (IPEC) in health systems. The World Report on Vision released in 2019, emphasizes the importance of IPEC and how it is an integral part of UHC.
  • IAPB urged countries to adopt the updated set of ‘Policy options and cost-effective interventions for the prevention and control of noncommunicable disease’s and encouraged specific commitments to implement interventions for Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and to integrate eye care services to ensure improved access. This statement highlighted the issue that the number of noncommunicable eye conditions, such as Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, and complications of high Myopia impact are increasing worldwide and pose a significant challenge to health systems globally.
  • We made our first ever constituency statement on the ‘Social determinants of health’. The organizations that contributed to the constituency statement included CBM, L’Organisation pour la Prévention de la Cécité (OPC), Sightsavers, The Fred Hollows Foundation, World Blind Union, and World Council of Optometry. The statement focused on inequities in the prevalence of vision loss around the world, wherein 90% of the avoidable vision loss is experienced by the poorest and most marginalized groups in low- and middle-income countries. The inequities in the social determinants are both the cause and consequences of vision loss. We called upon member states to elevate eye health issues as a social determinant of health and embed all aspects of eye health within the social care.

We encourage you to reach out to country governments to support these calls for action.