Significant progress has been made in generating renewed global political will for efforts to prevent avoidable blindness and vision impairment.
Earlier this year the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation took a decision to develop a new global Plan of Action for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment for the period 2014 to 2019. That Plan is now being drafted with input from Member States including Australia. It will be brought back to the full Assembly in May 2013.
In late May the Australian Government delegation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) jointly hosted a seminar on eye health system strengthening. Ms Jane Halton, Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing spoke at that seminar along with Sir Michael Hurst, incoming President of the International Diabetes Federation, and representatives of IAPB from Africa, South Asia and South America. This was followed by a reception, hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Peter Woolcott and his wife Tanya Woolcott, at their home in Geneva to thank Member States who have been active in voicing their support for greater international efforts to address avoidable blindness and vision impairment.
It is a source of great pride to us all that Australia has taken a leading role in working with the Member States of WHA in calling for action.
Congratulations to The Fred Hollows Foundation, a Principal Member of Vision 2020 Australia, for their leading efforts in partnership with Sightsavers International, Light for the World and other IAPB colleagues in coordinating support and information to assist the Member States at both Executive Board and full Assembly levels.
To support this international work, the Global Committee, led by the new Chair Amanda Davis from the International Centre for Eyecare Education has agreed to develop a Global Strategy, with an initial focus on Asia and the Pacific. The Strategy will guide advocacy, funding and programming activities in the region over the next three years.