- Leaders from around the eye health sector have written to Commonwealth Leaders ahead of their meeting in Kigali urging them to prioritise sight screenings and affordable treatment for all children in the Commonwealth.
- The letter comes as President Masisi of Botswana has released a video calling on his fellow leaders to make commitments on child eye health
- Others from across the eye health sector are being urged to sign the letter and lobby government leaders to prioritise school eye health programmes
On the eve of their meeting in Kigali eye health charities have written to Commonwealth Heads of Government urging them to make progress on child eye health. The commitment would build on the 2018 Commonwealth commitment to ‘Quality Eye Care for All’ and the progress that has been made on eliminating blinding trachoma.
President Masisi of Botswana has also launched a video ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where he states “our work [as leaders] is not yet done. Now is the time for the Commonwealth to redouble its efforts, so that every child can love their eyes”
Peter Holland Chair of the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition and Chief Executive of IAPB said, “Eye health has long been a neglected public health issue, and with evidence to suggest that by 2050 half the world’s population will have myopia we are on the verge of a global crisis which world leaders must step in to prevent.”
The letter states ‘School eye health is of the utmost importance if we are to ensure that all the children in the Commonwealth have access to a world class education. For example a study of almost 1 million children across 30 low-income and middle-income countries found that children with vision impairment were 2 to 5 times less likely to be included in formal education.1’
“Commonwealth leaders must build on their 2018 commitment and ensure that every child in the Commonwealth has access to a sight screening and affordable treatment, so as many children as possible can see clearly” Peter Holland concludes.
Others can add their signature to the letter at https://www.iapb.org/CHOGM22