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Sustainable Development Goals: the way ahead

Published: 24.11.2015


On 25 September the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese] was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Agenda 2030 includes the following sections: (1) Preamble, (2) Declaration, (3) Sustainable Development Goals and targets, (4) Means of Implementation and the Global Partnership, and (5) Follow Up and Review.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 169 targets are a new universal agenda which envisions a transformational change in all countries and globally to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. 

While eye health is not specifically mentioned in Goals or targets (like many other health issues), the SDGs offer many more opportunities than the Millennium Development Goals to promote Universal Eye Health in line with the WHO Global Action Plan.

Currently work is going on to develop a set of global indicators for the 169 targets. An Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) has been set up to prepare a proposal for the UN Statistical Commission to take a decision on those global indicators by March, 2016. IAPB and a number of members are intensively engaging in consultation processes of the IAEG and advocating towards National Statistical Offices. One big success so far is the inclusion of a specific indicator on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The information collection on the indicator “Number of people requiring treatment as a tracer for interventions against NTDs” will include the (1) Average annual number of people requiring preventive chemotherapy (PC) for at least one PC-NTD as well as the (2) Number of new cases requiring individual treatment (disease management) for other NTDs [Trichiasis surgeries to be added here]. For the indicator “Health Worker Density and Distribution” we are advocating for disaggregation by geographic distribution, cadres and professions. Other indicators very relevant for eye health – such as the ones to measure progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – are still under discussion. Our attempt is to have one UHC indicator on tracer interventions and link it to the recent WHO/Worldbank Report on measuring progress towards UHC – which includes Cataract Surgical Coverage.

In parallel to the development of a global set of indicators the focus on implementation turns from global to regional and national level. Each region and each country is expected to develop strategies to implement the SDGs, including the setting of specific targets and indicators at regional and national levels. These processes at regional and national level offer opportunities for including eye health not only under the Health Goal, but also in other Goals, e.g. in relation to clean water and sanitation, nutrition and social protection.

We are planning to develop resources on the “SDGs and Eye Health” for IAPB Member’s internal use and for use in external communication, policy and advocacy work. Your respective suggestions and specific requests are very much appreciated – please contact me; also when you have information on processes to develop SDG implementation plans and national and/or regional level.

Johannes Trimmel