During the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, IAPB hosted a global launch of the WHO Eye Care in Health Systems Guide for Action. An important set of tools to support countries to include eye health in their national health programmes.
Launching the tools, Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Non-Communicable Diseases, WHO said we need “all hands on deck” to take this forward, noting “it’s outrageous that in 2022 we have one billion people with vision impairment, and we have the oldest programme in WHO standing since 1970.”
The event also highlighted successes from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Tanzania who are setting an impressive example by delivering effective eye health interventions that put people at the centre of care.
Dr Maxi Rondonuwu, Director General of Disease Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health, Republic of Indonesia announced the inclusion of quality and comprehensive eye care in its community health centres, stating “it’s planned to be available in all 514 districts in the country.”
Mr. Lokman Hossain Miah, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for Bangladesh, emphasised the importance of governments allocating additional funding for local eye care services and incorporating eye health services in national policies.
Kate Wallace Assistant Secretary, Multilateral Health Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia said “it’s important that we continue to see collective action on the vast inequalities around visual impairment. With global rates anticipated to increase over the coming years, the associated personal and societal burden will continue to escalate, and we are aware this burden affects vulnerable populations such as women and persons with disabilities and rural communities.”
The new tools presented in the WHO Eye Care Guide for Action are a celebrated addition to helping countries implement recommendations presented in the WHO World Report on Vision and landmark global commitments made at the United Nations and World Health Assembly last year.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, addressed those in attendance “WHO will continue to support these efforts with our new Eye Care Guide for Action, while also working to gather better data that will help accelerate progress. We are grateful to all our partners for your ongoing collaboration, as we strive for a world where every person has the opportunity to see clearly.”
Peter Holland, CEO IAPB said “We know that the burden of avoidable blindness is not equal. In 2021, we moved closer to addressing that inequality with the landmark UN Resolution on Vision, enshrining eye health as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Now we have the WHO Eye Care Guide for Action, an exciting set of practical tools that will support effective eye health interventions in national health programmes, and ensure people receive the care they need, when they need it, and where they need it.”