2022 has seen many exciting developments for global eye health. As a sector, we have come together to advocate for some powerful commitments.
The Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition successfully campaigned for a commitment at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Building on the 2018 Commonwealth commitment, the 2022 Communique calls on all Commonwealth countries to “take a multi-pronged approach for access to screenings and affordable vision treatments, especially for children”.
The Vision for the Commonwealth’s work formed part of a broader global campaign on child eye health. In July, we took these messages to the United Nation’s Pre-Education Summit held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. We had chalkboards filled with blurry text, we put our messages in front of government and UN decision makers, and we garnered over 200 influential signatures for our cause. At the United Nations General Assembly Transforming Education Summit (TES), vision screenings were recognised as a “a cost-effective way to detect and correct impairments that may affect children’s ability to learn” and listed as a key recommendation to Member States under Action Track 1 for the TES.
We strengthened our relationships with UN Agencies – a key outcome of the UN Resolution Vision for Everyone. The International Labour Organization (ILO) are now working on a policy brief on eye health and the world of work. The brief, set to be launched next year, will provide a vital advocacy tool to persuade businesses and trade unions of the importance and benefits of supporting employee eye health.
Finally, we have made great progress in our efforts to secure the appointment of a Special Envoy on Vision to serve as a global advocate on eye health and lead the implementation of the UN Resolution Vision for Everyone. Over 150 CEOs have signed our Letter of Support to the Secretary General – proving what a force we can be when we come together. Please join this important campaign if you haven’t already!
The World Health Organization’s technical tools provide the foundation for the advancement of eye care at the regional and national level. We have seen some great examples of this already with the WHO Western Pacific and IAPB Regional Meeting in Singapore, the release of the WHO SEARO Regional Action Plan for IPEC implementation and 19 national policy dialogues across the world. But more work is needed to translate the global commitments made into national political will and action.
2023 is set to be a challenging year with world leaders facing a deepening economic crisis; a war in Ukraine and the multiplication of conflicts across the globe; worsening climate impacts; continuing Covid-19 recovery and growing inequities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of these challenges and the United Nation’s SDG Summit, marking the halfway point of the SDGs, must provide the roadmap for solutions. It is vital that improving the world’s eye health is one of those solutions.
Our sector’s most recent achievements have been the result of collective advocacy efforts. We should feel very proud of the progress that has been made. As we enter 2023, we must continue to work together to elevate eye health and increase national political will and action.