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IAPB’s statement on behalf of the global eye care sector to the UN Economic and Social Council High Level Segment

Published: 28.04.2020

IAPB submitted a statement on behalf of the global eye care sector to the 2020 United Nations Economic and Social Council High Level Segment (HLS). Held on an annual basis, the HLS represents the culmination of ECOSOC’s annual cycle of work and convenes a diverse group of high-level representatives from Government, the private sector, civil society and academia. This year, the meeting will be held virtually

The HLS will be held from 14 to 17 July 2020 under the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.

The statement:

The improvement of vision for everyone will have significant and immediate benefits to global prosperity. Vision makes an important contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs); in particular Goal 1 (End poverty in all its forms), Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being) Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education), Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality), Goal 8 (Productivity and decent work for all), Goal 10 (reduced inequalities) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for goals).

 Accelerating action on vision is a simple and highly cost-effective means of unlocking human potential; enabling children to gain an education, working age adults to get and keep a job; and improving equality for women and girls, who are more likely to suffer poor vision and less likely to get treatment. It has been shown that a year of wearing glasses is equivalent to up to an additional half a year of schooling and providing glasses can improve work productivity by 22%. Vision is also critical to reducing road traffic deaths and injuries, with studies suggesting impaired vision causing up to 60% of road traffic accidents.

 Today, over 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment and of these, at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed because they do not have access to the eye care services they need. This poses a considerable financial and societal burden; costing the global economy over US$3.6 trillion every year in health and social care costs, and potentially much more in decreased productivity, quality of life, and independence among those affected. This burden and loss of potential is not borne equally, and those left behind tend to be the poorest and most socially marginalised members of society.

Without concerted action, by 2050 three times as many people will be blind as now, and half the world will be living with short sightedness.

On behalf of the global eye care sector, we call upon member states and the international community, including United Nations agencies and the private sector, to support the improvement of vision for everyone and to ensure that addressing vision loss is incorporated in the decade of action and delivery on the SDGs, including progressively achieving universal health coverage.