The World Blind Union (WBU) promotes the needs and views of blind and partially sighted people worldwide. One of the main priorities of the WBU is to support and enhance our advocacy, representation and capacity strengthening efforts through raising awareness and providing resources on matters important to blind and partially sighted people.
As the prevalence of visual loss and blindness increases worldwide, the WBU continues to provide information and resources to our members and the public to raise awareness and support our members’ efforts to advocate for accessible and affordable health care services.
According to latest World report on vision released by the World Health Organization (WHO), October 2019, at least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.
The report found that ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.
Other main findings of the report include:
- The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.
- The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.
- Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
- US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.
The World Blind Union believes that prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment is critical. We call on governments to honour their commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which obligate them to provide affordable and accessible health care services.
Additionally, we encourage and support national and international initiatives aimed at reducing avoidable visual impairments, such as the “Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019″ (GAP), and VISION 2020: The Right to Sight” and the initiatives of the WHO.
Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019
“Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019″ (GAP) is a WHO (World Health Organization) initiative unanimously adopted by Member States in 2013. The Global Action Plan’s vision is: “A world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential and where there is universal access to comprehensive eye care services.”
The Goal of GAP is to: reduce visual impairment as a global public health problem; secure access to rehabilitation for visually impaired services. The objective is to ensure that all people have access to needed health services and to implement the most cost-effective interventions to prevent and cure eye diseases.
VISION 2020: The Right to Sight
Vision 2020 is a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) launched in 1999 to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020. The Global Initiative was set up to intensify and accelerate prevention of blindness activities to achieve the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020.
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