At the midpoint of the Global Action Plan: Towards Universal Eye Health, The Fred Hollows Foundation is joining Member States from across the globe and the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for accelerated efforts to achieve the target of a 25 per cent reduction in avoidable blindness by 2019.

Led by the Australian Government, Member States from across all six WHO regions and a coalition of members under the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) will hold a side event during the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva on 25 May, 2017 to highlight the need for this renewed effort.

“The integration of eye health within national health systems, and the removal of financial, structural and organisational barriers to accessing eye care services—especially for the poor—are key areas of our work,” said Jennifer Gersbeck, Director of Global Partnerships and Advocacy for The Fred Hollows Foundation, and panellist for the IAPB at the WHA event.

Ageing populations across the world have brought increasing challenges to the provision of eye health. Meanwhile, the ever-increasing prevalence of diabetes, the exponential increase in myopia, and the persistent gender imbalance in access to health care, requires innovative thinking and inter-sectoral collaboration to find effective solutions.

“We all have different strengths, we all have different approaches, but we all support the same goal of eliminating avoidable blindness,” Gersbeck said.

“We believe it is important to share the learning and knowledge within the sector and we provide platforms for all groups to be engaged,” she said.

The IAPB is calling for a redoubling of efforts over the next two years to achieve the ambition of the Global Action Plan.

“The implementation of eye health strategies like the Global Action Plan require leadership and governance, motivated healthcare workers, appropriate funding, access to safe and effective medical devices and technology, and a well-functioning health information system,” Gersbeck said.

“We must work together, in partnership and in collaboration, to ensure that no-one is needlessly blind or vision-impaired and that no-one is left behind.”