In an historic first, eye health and vision care organisations have united with the Australian Government to eliminate avoidable blindness and reduce the impact of vision loss throughout South East Asia and the Pacific over the next 10 years.
The partnership is part of the Rudd Government’s focus on improving living standards, health care and access to education in the Asia Pacific, and is a key element of AusAID’s new Development for All disability strategy.
80 per cent of global blindness is avoidable, treatable or preventable and, as a result of this partnership, as many as 100 million people in South East Asia and the Pacific will have their vision restored or improved.
The Hon Bob McMullan MP, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, will today launch the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium. The 2008 federal budget contained a $45 million commitment to improving eye health in the Asia Pacific. Since then, there has been much progress in establishing a Consortium partnership and developing a partnership agreement to commence the first stages of this groundbreaking initiative.
'The Consortium represents another important development partnership between the Government and non-Government sectors. The Australian Government looks forward to working with the Vision 2020 Global Consortium to improve the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in our region', Mr McMullan said.
Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO, Vision 2020 Australia, said, 'Australia can eliminate avoidable blindness in the Asia Pacific within 10 years. This would be a remarkable legacy to leave our closest neighbours. Blindness is both a cause and consequence of poverty, and improving eye care and reducing preventable blindness is a simple and cost effective way to reduce poverty.
'We are very excited and proud to be working in partnership with the Australian Government to deliver these projects. The Consortium members are all specialist organisations with a track record of achieving outstanding results both in Australia and overseas. Working together, we can achieve our goal to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Asia Pacific – and this is the first step'.
Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium will be launched on Thursday 19 November at Mural Hall – Parliament House, Canberra – by the Hon Bob McMullan MP, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance.
About the Consortium
The Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium brings together a group of leading eye health and vision care organisations. Global Consortium activities will include:
- addressing primary and secondary eye care needs in the Asia-Pacific region
- expanding the number of eye health workers in the region through support to training centres, medical colleges and teaching hospitals
- building on existing efforts by non-government organisations, governments and other organisations in providing quality eye health services informing the design of longer term programs to address avoidable blindness
The Consortium’s activities over the next two years constitute the first step in implementing Vision 2020 Australia’s 10 year Regional Plan, which aims to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Asia Pacific. The Secretariat function of the Global Consortium is being coordinated by Vision 2020 Australia. Other members of the Consortium include:
- CBM Australia
- Centre for Eye Research Australia
- The Fred Hollows Foundation
- International Centre for Eyecare Education
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
- Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
- Vision Australia.