The request came at an event to promote access to universal eye health organised by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), of which Sightsavers is a member, at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
The WHA meets annually and is the highest decision-making body of the WHO. The IAPB event was attended by ministers of health and senior government officials from more than 22 countries across the world, including several with which Sightsavers works.
The Minister of Health of the Cook Islands, Nandi Glassie, led calls for the new report, which all the other countries at the event endorsed.
Dr Etienne Krug, WHO’s Director for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, told the meeting the current eye health global action plan is making good progress toward the target of reducing avoidable blindness by 25 per cent, but added: “There is still considerable unmet need for comprehensive eye services in member countries.”
Dr Krug went on to welcome the request for a World Report on Vision, saying it will be extremely helpful to have a bottom-up approach that learns from experience on the ground in WHO member states.
“We will work on it, and we’ll be coming back to you [member states and NGOs] for technical and financial support,” he said.
IAPB’s Jennifer Gersbeck, who was on the panel with Dr Krug, welcomed his response, saying: “IAPB wholeheartedly supports the production of such a report.”
Juliet Milgate, Sightsavers’ Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, said: “We will be delighted to take part in this initiative. We look forward to deepening our work with WHO, as well as with our IAPB partners, by providing evidence for the report on how best to integrate universal eye health into health care systems and ensure equitable access to eye health care for all, which – of course – also supports the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals’ aim that no one is left behind.”