Refractive error, cataract surgery coverage a priority at World Health Assembly
WHO announced at the World Health Assembly on May 27 its target of increasing financial coverage of refractive error and cataract surgery by 2030 to combat blindness and vision impairment.
Countries will strive for a 40% increase of coverage for refractive error and a 30% increase of coverage for cataract surgery within the next decade, according to a press release from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
“Over 1.1 billion people are needlessly living with poor vision because they do not have access to basic eye care services like a pair of glasses or cataract surgery,” Peter Holland, IAPB chief executive, said in the release. “Without action, this number will rise to 1.8 billion, and half the population will have myopia by 2050.”
Bente Mikkelsen, MD, WHO director of non-communicable diseases, said WHO aims to “step-up the country impact and in particular through the development of technical tools, and the resources to support countries build capacity, and to strengthen eye care within their health systems.”
WHO first introduced these goals in the World Report on Vision last year as part of integrated people-centered eye care, the organization said in the press release. Many of the vision impairment targets are related to the Sustainable Development Goals that world leaders identified at the United Nations.
Many country representatives at the event, hosted by the government of Indonesia, IAPB, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Sightsavers, CBM, Light for the World and supported by the government of Australia, announced their support of WHO and its mission, the press release said.
“The targets are ambitious, but achievable with national commitment and strong collective action,” Holland said.