Blindness a ‘major health burden’: UN

The fight against avoidable blindness has received additional support with heads of states and governments at a United Nations Summit recognising eye diseases as "a major health burden for countries around the globe".

The United Nations Summit on Non Communicable Diseases was held recently in New York. It was only the second time that public health issues had been tackled at such a high level.

The Foundation's CEO, Brian Doolan, said that the UN's specific reference to eye disease is clear evidence that the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020 is gaining strength and recoginition.

"We know how much of an impact blindness has on people and communities. We also know that, in many cases, blindness can be reversed for as little as $25 in some countries.

The release of the Summit's Political Declaration noted that ‘eye diseases pose a major health burden for many countries and that these diseases share common risk factors and can benefit from common responses to non-communicable diseases.' 

Within the declaration, the UN also stated ‘profound concern that non-communicable diseases are among the leading causes of preventable morbidity and of related disability.'

"The UN recognise in this document that eye disease and blindness remains a serious problem, but the statement also states that great progress can be and is being made through common responses to the problem.

"I believe this is one of the reasons eye health has been singled out in this declaration. Yes, there is a big problem, but we know how to fix it and eye health is one area where we can really change people's lives," says Mr Doolan.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is a partner of Vision 2020 Australia. Vision 2020 is a global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
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