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United Nations General Assembly Resolution Commits Countries to Eye Care For the World’s 1.1 Billion People with Preventable Sight Loss by 2030

Sight loss is calculated to cost the global economy $411bn in productivity each year.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly on July 23, adopted Resolution A/75/L.108 committing the international community to eye health for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss by 2030.

Sight loss is calculated to cost the global economy $411bn in productivity each year.

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The resolution is the first agreement designed to tackle preventable sight loss to be adopted by the United Nations and enshrines eye health as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The resolution was passed unanimously by all 193 countries of the United Nations. It sets a target for vision for everyone by 2030, with countries set to ensure full access to eye care services for their populations, and to make eye health integral to their nation’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The resolution asks for international financial institutions and donors to provide targeted finances, especially to support developing countries in tackling preventable sight loss. And request the UN to incorporate eye health into its work, including through Unicef and UN-Women.

The resolution calls for new targets on eye care to be included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at its next review.

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The plan should mean that by 2030, the 1.1 billion people globally living with sight loss, will have access to support and treatment. But, campaigners say, only if governments and international institutions act now to fulfil their new commitments.

Commenting on the adoption of the “Vision for Everyone; accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ Resolution were:

    • H.E. Ambassador Aubrey Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, and founding co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group said:
      “An eye test for a child can be the difference between inclusion and or exclusion; A pair of prescription glasses, the difference between access to information and seeking a livelihood and not. Corrective eye treatment, the difference between improved sight and total loss of sight. The gift of sight for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss is within reach if we ensure world leaders deliver on this moment.”
    • H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group, said:
      “The adoption of today’s resolution on vision is a watershed moment in global efforts for vision care. We were honoured and pleased to lead this resolution together with fellow Friends of Vision Co-Chairs, Antigua and Barbuda and Ireland. 1.1 billion people live with preventable sight loss. Preventable sight loss is a global challenge that needs a global solution – and that is what we have agreed today. What we agreed today will make a world of a difference to the lives of billions and their families and communities.”
    • H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, member of the UN Security Council and co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group said:
      “If we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality then we must acknowledge that a lack of access to eye care has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. This can have devastating consequences on girls’ education, not to mention the participation of women in the workforce, poverty, child marriage, and the role of women in safeguarding the health and education of their own children. We look forward to working with others across the United Nations to implement the resolution.”
    • Caroline Casey, President of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), said:
      “The global eye health sector welcomes this pivotal moment for all those on our planet living without access to eye health. However, this will only make a difference to some of the poorest on our planet if governments act now. The Member States of the United Nations have come together to agree on a global plan for change, ensuring full access to eye care services for their populations, and, to support global efforts, to make eye care part of their nation’s journey to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Those of us working in eye health will work with every sinew in our bodies to ensure that this is delivered and to ensure that 2030 is in sight for all.”
    • Peter Holland, CEO of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), said:
      “The eye health sector has believed for a long time that quality eye care is critical to the world achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We are delighted that the resolution was passed unanimously and would like to thank all the countries that co-sponsored the resolution, and especially the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland and Bangladesh for their leadership on eye health at the United Nations and around the world. IAPB’s members are committed to supporting governments to implement this resolution and ensure that no one is left behind”.
    • Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, IAPB Global Ambassador, said:
      “Eye care is life-changing and everyone has the right to sight. I am delighted that the international community, with the support of the global eye care sector, have come together to agree a new plan at the United Nations, to advance eye care globally. We know that we can put an end to preventable sight loss around the world. It is a truly extraordinary gift, and one that is within reach.”
    • Commenting on the adoption of the Resolution, Daniel McBride, President of CooperVision, said:
      “This is a landmark development by the United Nations General Assembly, clearly defining the need for treating vision impairments and preventing future sight loss worldwide. In becoming a Global Patron of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness last year, we believed the organization had the capacity to advance universal access to eye health — including bringing greater awareness and action to the growing prevalence and severity of myopia in children. IAPB’s role in this momentous resolution, which is also aligned with CooperCompanies’ support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, deserves applause from across the entire eye care spectrum. It’s up to all of us to help fulfill what the agreement sets out — industry, practitioners, institutions and governments alike.”

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