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My first response to the proceedings on World Sight Day in Mexico is one of gratitude. Gratitude to the organisers, of course, but also to the many government, professional and NGO representatives who made it so successful.
What did we learn?
First: that with the cooperation of the range of professional eye health bodies and the relevant government we can put on an event which will draw significant attention to the issues surrounding eye health.
Second: that it is possible to extend this impact to a broader region than the host country with the cooperation of the regional WHO and IAPB offices. Third: that we will need to do more to mobilise international media attention.
We have erected a solid basis on which to build. We have learnt some important lessons. It is now up to us all to build on this basis for 2015 and beyond.There are critical challenges over the next twelve months.
The international community will establish the Sustainable Development Goals to guide international development issues and policies for the next decade. It is vital that disability issues are recognised in these goals and that there is at least one eye health measure among the agreed schedule of indicators.
The next twelve months will also be vital for the successful implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan for the prevention of blindness and visual impairment.
This plan was achieved due to the advocacy of a number of countries, including a prominent role by Mexico. But this will only be a piece of paper unless we move on the critical issue of country level implementation. It is extremely important that all regions prioritise their advocacy efforts to maximise our impact globally.
These are big challenges.
With the enthusiasm and commitment I saw during World Sight Day in Mexico I am sure we can rise to these challenges. By next World Sight Day we will need to have made some measurable progress on achieving our key objectives. That is our challenge going forward. To build on our success in Mexico to serve the interests of those who are visually impaired wherever they may live.
Pictures provided with support from Bayer