Commonwealth Health Ministers Commit to Enhancing Eye Health

Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition meeting 2024

At their annual meeting last week, Commonwealth Health Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to eye health as a cornerstone of universal health coverage (UHC) and health security. The ministers pledged to scale up efforts across the Commonwealth, recognizing eye health’s critical role in overall well-being, education, and economic productivity.

The meeting highlighted the progress made in eliminating trachoma and providing children with eye care services throughout the Commonwealth. This commitment was further emphasized during a breakfast meeting organized by the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition, attended by representatives from various Commonwealth nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The breakfast meeting focused on the vital link between eye health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes. Hon. Valasi Luapitofanua To’ogamaga Tafito Selesele, Minister of Health of Samoa, opened the meeting sharing Samoa’s proactive approach to integrating eye health into national NCD strategies. Dr. Saia Piukala, Western Pacific Regional Director of WHO, underscored the interconnected nature of NCDs and vision health, stating, ”Vision health is not a luxury, it’s essential for development.”

The meeting also heard from Brandon Ah Tong, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Fred Hollows Foundation , and Carole Poloso, Chief Ophthalmologist of the Soloman Islands and PacEYES Executive Secretary, both giving their own personal reflections on the importance of affordable, available and accessible eye health.

In a demonstration of growing momentum, ministers reiterated their commitment to accelerating a multi-sector approach to address eye health challenges. This includes promoting innovative solutions and ensuring accessible and equitable eye care for all Commonwealth citizens. The ministers expressed anticipation for a Global Eye Health Summit in 2026, which will further galvanize global action on eye health.

“We are grateful to Commonwealth Health Ministers for their ongoing commitment to eye health,” said James Chen, IAPB Global Ambassador and a founding member of the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition. ”Ministers have recognized the critical role eye health plays in overall health, including in tackling non-communicable diseases, as well as wider well-being, education, and economic productivity.”

The Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition, comprising IAPB, Sightsavers, Fred Hollows Foundation, Peek Vision, and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), collected signatures at the meeting calling for accelerated global action on eye health. Notable signatories included WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, and sixteen country representatives. The Coalition will continue its work in the lead-up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Samoa later this year.

Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition meeting 2024



About IAPB 

IAPB is the overarching alliance for the global eye health sector, with more than 200 member organizations in over 100 countries working together for a world where everyone has universal access to eye care. IAPB believes in a world in which no one is needlessly visually impaired, where everyone has access to the best possible standard of eye health; and where those with irreparable sight loss achieve their full potential. Our key priorities are global advocacy, campaigning on a different level, connecting knowledge and strengthening the network.

About Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting  

Hosted by the Government of Kiribati, the 36CHMM was convened under the theme: “Actionable Solutions to Building Resilience in Healthcare Systems within the Commonwealth, with an Emphasis on Small and Vulnerable States”. The two-day meeting looked at:

  • Practical solutions needed to strengthen the resilience of healthcare systems across the Commonwealth;
  • Interventions that will enable all countries, particularly fragile, small and vulnerable states, to effectively prevent, detect, respond to and recover from public health crises and other shocks;
  • The climate and health nexus as well as opportunities to build integrated and resilient health systems;
  • Avenues to bolster the capabilities of the health and social care workforce for more resilient health systems.

 More information is available here


About the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition 

was launched in 2017 by a group of six leading eye health organizations, charities, and campaign groups – The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Sightsavers, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Peek Vision, Clearly, and the International Coalition for the Trachoma Control ICTC – who have joined efforts to end avoidable blindness and poor vision across the Commonwealth. Vision for the Commonwealth is currently chaired by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Current members as of 2024 are IAPB, Sightsavers, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Peek Vision, and ICTC

SILMO PARIS 20-23 September 2024


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