Governments commit to accelerate action to improve access to eye care services

Governments adopted a new resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, committing to greater efforts to make eye care services an integral part of universal health coverage and address the increasing impact of vision loss on sustainable development.

Over 2 billion people globally are living with vision impairment or blindness and at least 1.1 billion people are living with vision loss because they do not get the care they need for conditions like short and far-sightedness, glaucoma and cataract.

These figures are expected to increase substantially due to population growth, ageing, and changes in lifestyle such as reduced time spent outdoors, and greater time spent on intensive near vision activity. Combined with limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, half of the global population is expected to be living with a vision impairment by 2050.

Moreover, the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

Achieving the targets endorsed at the 74th World Health Assembly this year and in this new resolution will require the combined and proactive efforts of all stakeholders to fully integrate eye care within national health services including at primary health care level and to ensure that the eye care needs of more people are addressed through prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation. In addition, collective efforts to monitor progress toward the targets will also be required.

Stakeholders include governments, civil society, private sector, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations and all relevant entities of the UN development system — such as WHO, International Labour Organization, UNESCO, UNICEF, UN Women and the UN Road Safety Collaboration.

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