63 countries have written to UN Secretary-General António Guterres calling on him to create a Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Vision. The Envoy would build on the significant momentum developed around eye health over the past three years and enable a global advocate to lead the implementation of the 2021 UN General Assembly resolution on ‘Vision for Everyone’, coordinating with relevant UN agencies, including the World Health Organization, and mobilizing action at the national level.
The letter from countries including Nigeria, India, United Kingdom, China as well as Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Ireland, Brazil, Ghana, Australia, and others states “This is an opportunity to ensure all people around the world have equitable access to eye health and to tackle a development issue which can be solved this decade.”
To coincide with the letter from UN member states, over 150 CEOs and Leaders of eye health organizations around the world have also written to the Secretary-General to support the establishment of a Special Envoy on Vision. The letter, co-ordinated by the eye health umbrella body the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and signed by organizations including professional bodies, the corporate sector, NGOs and others says “Opportunities to spark generational-level change are rare. It requires the right global commitment, strong government, and community support, a clear pathway forward, and the right leadership to guide the way. For vision, that moment has arrived.”
Commenting on the letter H.E. Dr. Walton Webson, the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Antigua and Barbuda, Founder/Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group said “The July 2021 adoption of UNGA resolution, “Vision for Everyone: accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, was a watershed moment for global efforts to improve vision. In that resolution, Governments recognized vision as foundational to human development. With this call for a Special Envoy on Vision, countries are once again stating the importance of eye health in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Peter Holland, IAPB Chief Executive said “Globally, at least 2.2 billion people, more than a quarter of humanity, have a vision impairment, or blindness. Of those, more than 1 billion live with sight loss due to a lack of services. Population growth, an aging population, and increased urbanization only make the problem worse. The Special Envoy would crucially serve as a global champion for vision to mobilize national action on eye health, ensuring everyone has accessible, available and affordable eye health services is a global development challenge which can be solved by 2030.”
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is the overarching alliance for the global eye care sector, with almost 200 members worldwide drawn from NGOs and civil society, corporate organizations, professional bodies, and research and eye care institutions.