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Mexico City to host global World Sight Day event

MEDIA RELEASE

Top eye health organisations join hands for a Gala event, paired with world-class academic sessions, at the historic UNAM medical palace in Mexico City to mark World Sight Day.

9 October 2014, World Sight Day (WSD)–an international day of awareness about avoidable blindness and its prevention–will be celebrated with a remarkable event in Mexico City.

Hosted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the Mexican Society of Ophthalmology (SMO), this WSD Event will showcase IAPB’s–and indeed the eye health sector’s–commitment to ensuring that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) blindness prevention objectives are met.

The WSD event will include a series of lectures by renowned Mexican ophthalmologists and eye care leaders–optometrists, public health experts and senior management from NGOs and corporations–from around the world. Sessions will cover various aspects of ‘Universal Eye Health’, discussing the latest in eye health practices and roadmaps for the future.

The gala event will be graced by key professionals in Mexican, South/Central American and global eye care. With representation from the Ministry of health, the WHO, the International Diabetes Federation and the global professional bodies of ophthalmology and optometry, the event will bring together representatives from every aspect of eye health. IAPB will seek endorsement from the illustrious participants in ensuring that eye health is on the agenda of key government, Corporate and NGO stakeholders over the next few years.

Bob McMullan, President, IAPB will be chairing the event. “Universal Eye Health embodies many critical aspects of successful eye health practice,” he said. “No one should needlessly go blind. Those with permanent sight loss should be able to meet their potential. Together we can deliver on these objectives–World Sight Day is a great opportunity to renew our commitment”.

Participants at the event will discuss generating evidence on prevalence, integration with wider health networks, multi-sectoral engagement and ensuring access to the most disadvantaged–be it women, the disabled or poor. These themes are crucial for implementing the WHO’s Global Action Plan for the prevention of blindness.

“The main purpose of the Mexican Society of Ophthalmology (SMO) is to work together with all ophthalmologists in the country to facilitate, update and disseminate knowledge of this area of medicine” says Dr Benito Celis, President, SMO. “Hence, it is extremely important for Mexico to have been selected as the host country for this event. We can highlight the importance of visual impairment and ways of tackling it. The SMO is honoured to host IAPB and its members”.

The gala event and workshop deliberations will be focusing on blindness prevention, a key public health issue of our times. 4 out of 5 visually impaired people are avoidably so . Research shows that every dollar spent on eye health has a two-fold return on investment–in developing countries, home to 90 per cent of all visual impairment, there is a four-fold return.

Yet current estimates put the number of people living with significant visual impairment at 285 million, 39 million of whom are blind. IAPB and its members and partners recognise that governments are key to ensuring access to quality eye health services and eliminating avoidable blindness.

“We are delighted to support the IAPB Globally and the SMO locally in putting together such an event” said Dr. Gerhard Albrecht, Medical Director Bayer Mexico and Head Medical Affairs Central America & the Caribbean. “Bayer is committed to eliminating avoidable blindness in the region and the world. We believe Science can lead to a better life, and the participants represent the forefront of vision science for public benefit.”

Alexis Serlin, Country President for Novartis Mexico said, “Our mission in ophthalmology is to discover, develop and manufacture innovative products to improve eye health and enhance people’s lives. That is why this WSD event is crucial for us; it builds collaboration among key eye health organizations in academia, non-profits and business.  Alcon and Novartis are committed to working together with IAPB to better understand eye health care challenges in Mexico and together develop solutions tailored to the community. 

Dr Susan Cooper, President, World Council of Optometry said, “Uncorrected refractive errors represent 43% of the causes of visual impairment. 80 per cent of global visual impairment is avoidable: as optometrists, we are an important part of eye care teams who strive to provide high quality eye health and vision care to those in need. I believe the World Sight Day gala event is a great occasion to draw attention to issues around human vision”.

“Eye Health is an important aspect of the ageing process: 82 per cent of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above ” notes Jane Barratt, Secretary General, the International Federation of Ageing. “The federation is happy to extend support to IAPB and their eye health partners in broadening the discussion and policy around eye health, with an emphasis on securing rights of, and increasing opportunities for older people”.

Every year, WSD is celebrated in over 300 events in 60 countries around the world. This year, WSD is marked the world over with the global call to action: “No more Avoidable Blindness”. Representing over 120 organisations, including every major eye health organisation and global eye health professional associations, IAPB supports WSD activities across the globe by sending promotional material like posters, bookmarks, reports and advocacy material free of cost. 

This event in Mexico has been made possible with support from:

  • Mexican Society of Ophthalmology
    The society works to bring together all ophthalmologists in Mexico, as well as groups dedicated to the field. One of its aims is to promote and disseminate ophthalmic knowledge, including to coordinate, advise, assist and guarantee to groups, associations and institutions of higher education dedicated to the teaching, study and practice of ophthalmology. 
  • International Council of Ophthalmology
    The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) represents and serves professional associations of ophthalmologists throughout the world. 
  • World Council of Optometry
    The World Council of Optometry (WCO) is an international membership organisation facilitating the enhancement and development of eye and vision care worldwide outreach.
  • Bayer
    The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry.  
  • Novartis
    Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and society. Alcon, the eye care division of Novartis is the global leader in eye care, providing innovative products that enhance quality of life by helping people worldwide see better.  
  • Clarity
    Clarity Medical Systems Inc. is a medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets integrated optical systems.
  • Thea
    Théa is an independent pharmaceutical company specialised in the research, development and commercialisation of eye-care products.
  • Servimed
    Servimed is a leader in organising national and international congresses and conventions in Mexico.

ENDS

About IAPB

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is the coordinating membership organisation leading international efforts in blindness prevention activities. IAPB’s mission is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by bringing together governments and non-governmental agencies to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of sustainable national eye care programmes. Please visit: www.iapb.org

World Sight Day

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. World Sight Day 2014 is on 9 October 2014. 2014 is the first year of the WHO Global Action Plan and the theme is ‘Universal Eye Health’. This year, the 'Call to Action' for World Sight Day is “No more Avoidable Blindness”. For more information please visit www.iapb.org/wsd14

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