In July, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the “Vision for Everyone: accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” resolution. This resolution solidifies eye health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commits the international community to eye health for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss by 2030.
The resolution is the United Nations’ first agreement designed to tackle preventable sight loss and was adopted unanimously by all 193 UN member countries. It sets a target for vision for all by 2030, with the countries committing to ensure full access to eye care services for their populations and to make eye health integral to their nation’s commitment to achieving the SDGs.
The resolution recognizes the important contribution that the promotion of eye health makes in accelerating the achievement of the 2030 SDGs and acknowledges that improving eye health supports efforts to build a more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive future.
At least 2 billion people in the world live with vision impairment or blindness, and 1.1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. With global eye care needs projected to increase substantially – half of the global population is expected to be living with a vision impairment by 2050 – this resolution is timely and necessary.
The resolution also invites international financial institutions and donors to provide appropriate funding, especially for developing countries, to address the increasing impact of vision loss on sustainable development and to build an international campaign on eye health towards the fulfilment of the SDGs until they are achieved.
The driving advocacy force behind the United Nations resolution was the UN Friends of Vision Group, consisting of country representatives from more than 50 countries. The group is supported by a secretariat chaired by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), of which OPC is a member, and includes longtime OPC partners like Sightsavers.
OPC: Championing inclusive eye health for more than 40 years
Since 1978, OPC has worked to ensure the human right to sight, providing research, treatments and cures for people affected by blindness and blinding diseases in Francophone Africa. Through its comprehensive eye care and neglected tropical disease programs, OPC establishes and/or strengthens eye care programs; builds capacity and mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of eye health activities; empowers local teams of eye health professionals; and shares knowledge and trains human resources in ophthalmology and best practices.
Through its inclusive eye health care approach, OPC ensures that the most vulnerable communities – women, children, people with disabilities and communities in rural or remote areas – get access to quality eye care.
OPC is proud of the UN resolution on vision passing, as it calls attention to the vital role eye health plays in global health and wellbeing, including:
- Economic benefits. Improved vision and optimized functional abilities for people with blindness or vision impairment leads to improvement in job prospects, enhanced productivity at work, increased income, spending and economic productivity. These economic benefits are especially important to the vulnerable communities in Francophone Africa where OPC works.
- Social benefits. Improved vision reduces isolation for the blind or visually impaired individual, as well as the burden on families and others who care for them, promoting inclusion. It also addresses the disproportionate impact the burden of eye health conditions has on vulnerable populations, like women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees, and other groups often marginalized and excluded from society.
- Education benefits. When children are not limited by vision impairment, school enrollment increases, and children experience greater success in learning and academic achievement. An eye test and a pair of glasses can be the difference between success and inclusion, or failure and exclusion.
- Promoting gender equality. The prevalence of vision impairment is higher among women and contributes to socio-economic inequality women and girls experience around the world. Women need to achieve gender equality in access to eye care in order to combat this.
By supporting OPC, you help contribute to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030 and support the commitment of the United Nations Vision for Everyone resolution.