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Published: 21.10.2020
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After much thought and discussion, the IAPB board, in consultation with the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), has decided to cancel next year’s Global Assembly 2021 (GA 2021). The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shows no clear signs of abatement – the future too is uncertain. Therefore, we are unwilling to put the health and safety of delegates and staff at risk. The Assembly is a key part of the eye health calendar and an important opportunity for public health eye care to meet, network and discuss on key aspects of our work. However, the pandemic has made it unviable and expensive for the sector to travel for such a global event.

The GA in particular has always attracted a sizeable participation from the global South. The pandemic and the resultant disruption, particularly to travel and hospitality, has cut off international travel for large sections of the world. It has added a lot of uncertainty to the logistics of planning for the event, particularly in a safe and accessible manner.

IAPB is committed to delivering a global event, which will bring the benefits of networking and learning to the sector. As the situation clears, IAPB will work with SERI to see what such an event will look like in the future.

Joanna Conlon, Director of Development and Communications, IAPB said, “After all the work and planning that the IAPB team has put into the GA, this is a tough but necessary decision. COVID-19 has put the world in an extraordinary and difficult situation, and this includes the eye health sector. Ultimately, we must protect the health and safety of our staff and the sector’s professionals.

We have been fortunate to have SERI as our partner and host during this time. Their advice and support have been crucial these past few months.”

The decision to cancel GA2021 is a disappointment. But COVID-19 presents us with a formidable challenge – Singapore has been at the forefront of the global efforts to understand and mitigate it – and we understand why this is the right call at this time”, said Prof Tin Aung, Executive Director, Singapore Eye Research Institute. “I am confident that there will soon come a time when we can all meet and discuss in Singapore again, and I look forward to welcoming you along with IAPB”, he added.

The Western Pacific region, like the rest of the world, has been significantly impacted by Covid-19. While the pandemic puts the Global Assembly on the back-burner, our members are working hard and creatively to ensure that we continue to advocate for those most vulnerable and reach as many people as possible with services. When it is safe for all of us to meet again, I look forward to a Global Assembly big enough to share the region’s successes”, said Amanda Davis, Regional Chair, IAPB Western Pacific.

IAPB wishes to acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices of health and community professionals around the world during this difficult period.