Governments commit to expedite action towards improving access to eye care services

SWITZERLAND – Governments have adopted a new resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, committing to greater efforts to make eye care services an integral part of universal health coverage and address the increasing impact of vision loss on sustainable development.

The World Health Assembly endorsed the global targets for effective coverage of refractive errors and cataract surgery to be achieved by 2030 namely, a 40 per cent increase in coverage of refractive errors and a 30 per cent increase in coverage of cataract surgery.

To achieve these targets endorsed at the 74th World Health Assembly will require the combined and proactive efforts of all stakeholders to fully integrate eye care within national health services including at primary health care level.

At present at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed.

The world faces considerable challenges in terms of eye care, including inequalities in the coverage and quality of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services; a shortage of trained eye care service providers; and poor integration of eye care services into health systems, among others.

 Produced at the request of Member States during a side event to the 70th World Health Assembly, and with the support of experts from around the world, the world report on vision provides evidence on the magnitude of eye conditions and vision impairment globally.

It also draws attention to effective strategies to address eye care, and offers recommendations for action to improve eye care services globally.

The key proposal of the report is for all countries to provide integrated people-centered eye care services which will ensure that people receive a continuum of eye care based on their individual needs throughout their lives.

Interventions that address the needs associated with uncorrected refractive error and unoperated cataract are among the most cost-effective and feasible health interventions available.

Key challenges in meeting the growing demand for these interventions include the ability to provide services for underserved populations and ensuring quality service delivery.

Achieving these targets requires the combined and proactive efforts of all stakeholders including governments, civil society, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations and the WHO Secretariat working together in innovative ways to address the population eye care needs.

These needs do not just relate to cataract and refractive errors but are also associated with a range of other common eye conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

The World report on vision is directed at ministries of health, development agencies, civil society organizations and researchers, practitioners and policy-makers from the field of eye care.

It is hoped that by shaping the global agenda on vision, the report will assist Member States and their partners in their efforts to reduce the burden of eye conditions and vision loss and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG target 3.8 on universal health coverage.

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