New Campaign Calls For Eye Health To Be Equal This World Sight Day

Signtsavers Eye Health Equals

To mark World Sight Day a new ‘Eye health Equals’ campaign by Sightsavers is launching a ‘manifesto for change’ – calling for eye health to be made a global priority.

Across the world, the number of people in need of eye care is spiraling and without concerted action, the number of people who are blind could triple by 2050. At least 2.2 billion people have a visual impairment but nearly half of that is preventable or treatable1. Only half the world’s population can access the health services they need2, and it is estimated that the global productivity loss of visual impairment and blindness is £343.7 billion each year3.

Good eye health has a ripple effect on society, improving education, well-being, economics, and health outcomes. International development organization Sightsavers is calling on governments, organizations, donors, and communities to make ambitious but achievable changes which:

  • Recognize the importance of eye health
  • Integrate eye health into global and national health programs
  • Invest in inclusive eye health services, with a particular focus on women and girls.

Sumrana Yasmin, Deputy Technical Director: Eye Health and URE at Sightsavers, said: “Eye health equals opportunity, allowing children to learn and adults to earn. It equals improved well-being: supporting families, communities, and nations to thrive. And it equals progress toward our shared goals of reducing poverty and inequity.

“Governments and other organizations are showing commitment to reducing the burden of vision impairment, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We hope our manifesto sets out what still needs to happen to avoid the growing eye health crisis.”

Sightsavers and partners are also celebrating World Sight Day by hosting activities across Africa and Asia. For example, in Malawi, there will be a visit from Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex following the recent announcement that the country is the first in southern Africa to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. This devastating disease can turn eyelashes inwards so that they scrape the eye and, if left untreated, can cause irreversible sight loss. The visit will include meeting health workers involved in trachoma elimination and other eye health projects, and people whose lives have been transformed by trachoma or cataract surgery.

There are many eye conditions that impact the global eye health crisis as well as trachoma, including cataracts, refractive error, and glaucoma. The importance of eye health can be seen through stories such as Ganizani from the Chikwawa region in Malawi, whose life was affected by cataracts. Dayilesi, his wife, had to take on their farming duties and provide food and water for Ganizani, and he found socializing difficult.

Cataract surgery, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery in Great Britain, helped Ganizani get back to his farming duties and back into the community: “Now I can see brightness in my eyes, I can see properly, I am able to work alone. I am now happy and able to see people chat with people.”

Sightsavers ‘Eye health equals’ campaign and manifesto, and World Sight Day activities, complement the wider International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) call this World Sight Day to ‘love your eyes’ and focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.

More information about the campaign can be found here: www.sightsavers.org/eye-health-equals

 

References:

  1. World Health Organization (2019). World report on vision https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241516570
  2. World Bank (2017). Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/640121513095868125/pdf/122029-WP-REVISED-PUBLIC.pdf
  3. Ana Patricia Marques et al (2021). Global economic productivity losses from vision impairment and blindness https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00132-2/fulltext
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