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Malaysia and Nepal Health Ministers to unite at World Health Assembly for Universal Access to Glasses 

Published: 15.05.2024

Geneva, Switzerland (April 8, 2024) – On May 30th, 2024, a high-level side event focusing on access to vision care will convene at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. Titled “Universal Access to Glasses: Promoting Multisectoral Action,” the event is co-ordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and hosted by the governments of Nepal and Malaysia.

This important event underscores the global public health crisis posed by vision impairment. Over 2.2 billion people live with some form of vision impairment, with about 1.1 billion of these cases being avoidable. Uncorrected refractive errors, the most common cause of vision loss, affect an estimated 671 million people worldwide, a number predicted to rise sharply in coming decades. 

The event will build upon positive momentum created by the landmark 2021 UN resolution “Vision for Everyone” and WHO guidance promoting Integrated People-centred Eye Care. It will also address the ambitious WHA target for a 40 percentage point increase in effective refractive error coverage by 2030. You can register to view the event livestream on the IAPB website

Organisers of the event are calling on governments, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society to join forces and commit to achieving universal access to affordable and quality eye care, including glasses.  

Commenting on the event Peter Holland, Chief Executive Officer, IAPB said “It is so important for us as a sector to galvanise support from member states, international organisation like WHO and stakeholders from across the sector including business and NGOs to tackle this global health challenge, this is why it is so important to unite behind the same cause.” 

Jennifer Gersbeck, Executive Director – Global Advocacy, The Fred Hollows Foundation, moderator for the event said “With uncorrected refractive error expected to affect more than a third of the global population by 2030, we need to take urgent collective action now. This event will bring together experts from across different sectors to help us chart a way forward.”  

Ahead of the event, one of the speakers Stuart Cockrill, Head of LCM for Myopia Management, CooperVision said “Uncorrected refractive error is one of the biggest silent health crises that impacts educational and work performance so it a true life time disease and disability” 

Dr. Alarcos Cieza - Unit Head, Sensory Function Disability and Rehabilitation, WHO HQ said “This event will discuss policy recommendations and strategies such as the WHO’s SPECs initiative to integrate refractive error services into broader healthcare and other systems.”  

Event Details

May 30, 2024, 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM CET

Join us in person at the Four Seasons des Bergues Geneva register to attend today.
If you’re unable to join in person, you can register to watch the livestream link here.