Bill Harvey: Key year comes into view
Author: Bill Harvey
I realised this week just how close we are to the year 2020, a year of particular significance for those involved in eye health.
VISION 2020 was a global initiative that aimed ‘to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.’ It was launched in 1999 by the World Health Organization in partnership with more than 20 international non-governmental organisations involved in ‘eye care and the prevention and management of blindness.’ This group was called the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
It was announced last week that the General Assembly of the IACB will meet in Singapore this coming April in part to ‘mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period.’ As stated in their announcement, this meeting will ‘present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future.’
The 2020 objective has been as laudable as it is challenging. In a paper published back in 2010, a summary of how effective the project had been by this mid-term point concluded, ‘The elimination of avoidable blindness can be achieved, but to achieve the aspiration of VISION 2020 a significant scaling up of current activity is required. We need more programs, better programs and we need faster progress toward our goal.’1
The rapid expansion in eye care provision in once-labelled developing countries has been remarkable, though most would argue there is still a way to go – not least in terms of encouraging government supported programmes against the backdrop of a slowing global economy. There is also the little matter of improved life expectancy; longer life is reflected in a higher incidence of common eye diseases. Look out for 2020 themed reports as the year proceeds.
1 Ackland P. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2012 Sep-Oct; 60(5): 380–386.