I recently participated in a side event on eye health held during the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), where several Member States issued a call for a World Report on Vision.
In my time at WHO I have overseen the development of several world reports – on violence prevention, road safety and diabetes among others – so can attest to the valuable role they play in driving an agenda forward if conceived and developed well. They bring greater awareness to important issues, broaden the base of support and provide critical evidence to guide Member States in making informed decisions for the future.
We know that the global impact of vision loss is more significant than just the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment. People with vision impairment often have poorer health, can face barriers to education and reduced employment opportunities. The impact of vision loss can also be felt within a family. For example, caring responsibilities can reduce the likelihood that other family members will thrive and increase the risk of poverty. These challenges can be overcome and the time do so is now.
With a rapidly accelerating ageing population, the impact of vision loss is expected to increase. We know that investing in vision offers a good return on investment. We also know that people with vision impairment can lead full and productive lives with the right services. This report represents a great opportunity to contribute to reducing the burden of vision loss, improving the lives of people with a vision impairment and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since the request, WHO has worked quickly to put together a plan to develop the World report on vision. At this stage, we are expecting to launch the report towards the end of 2018. We know how much interest and excitement there will be amongst the sector, so we will update stakeholders as regularly as possible as the report is developed, including through a web page dedicated to the report. There is some information already available here: http://www.who.int/blindness/vision-report/en/.
I would also encourage people to sign-up here to the WHO news alerts from the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention (NVI): http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/email_signup/en/. Just select ‘blindness prevention’ from the list of topics as well as any other one you may be interested in.
We will also have a short online survey coming out soon. This will be an opportunity for people to feed in ideas and suggestions on important topics the report should address. More information will follow.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who attended and supported the WHA side event and all of the organizations who have come forward to contribute towards the development of the World report on vision. This is an exciting opportunity for the field, and WHO will draw on the expertise of many to ensure this report has the content and impact we are all seeking.