Parliamentary Friends Group celebrates Australian leadership and collaboration

The Parliamentary Friends Group for Eye Health and Vision Care came together on Monday evening to hear about critical eye health and vision care issues in Australia and globally. They were informed about how Australia’s leadership and collaboration has had an impact in reducing avoidable vision impairment as a global public health problem and in securing access to rehabilitation services for people who are blind or vision impaired.

Celebrating the successes of the Avoidable Blindness Initiative (ABI), guests heard from International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness President Bob McMullan and Vision 2020 Australia Chair Amanda Vanstone. The Avoidable Blindness Initiative was launched in 2007, with funding of $66 million. One of the key outcomes of the ABI was the formation of the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium, which has facilitated global engagement in blindness prevention since 2010 through the coordinated efforts of its Australian members.

Since the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium’s inception, the Australian Government has helped support more than 439,953 treatment services through Global Consortium programs, over 838,922 people have been screened and more than 17,000 training events have been implemented.

To showcase the results of the ABI and Global Consortium projects, guests read stories that were then used to test their knowledge of global eye health in a quiz. Guests also watched a video that highlighted the stories of eye health workers and vision impaired locals from Pakistan, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.

Nearly 90 people attended the dinner including 23 parliamentarians, three ambassadors, eight advisers, and ten departmental representatives as well as special guest Major General Michael Jeffery. Feedback from guests was positive and highlights how the inspiring personal stories of the people who are working to improve eye health and vision care resonate with the parliamentarians and advisers.

Thank you to the event sponsors Brien Holden Vision Institute, CBM Australia, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Optometry Australia.