The Global Action Plan – a commitment to reduce avoidable blindness

The Global Action Plan (GAP) was adopted at the WHO World Health Assembly in May 2013, since then significant work has been undertaken to implement its commitment. What follows here is an indication of the progress made, and the hurdles still to come

Zoe Gray - IAPB

GBM roundelAt the World Health Assembly in May 2013, governments adopted Resolution 66.4 Universal Eye Health: a Global Action Plan 2014-2019 making the commitment to act to significantly reduce avoidable blindness around the world and acknowledging the importance of achieving Universal Eye Health.

Endorsed by all 194 WHO Member States, it is a commitment to improve eye health for everyone, including access to rehabilitation services for those with visual impairment. This means governments are central to ensuring access to quality eye health services. The Global Action Plan (GAP) builds upon previous VISION 2020 and WHO 2009 – 2013 Action Plans.

The GAP sets out objectives and means to achieve significant reductions in avoidable blindness and visual impairment world-wide, and the responsibilities of the different stakeholders – governments, WHO and international partners. The objectives are on evidence, used to advocate for political commitment and investment, development and strengthening of national plans advancing universal eye health, and strengthening multi-sector engagement and partnership.

Measuring the progress

A major advance in the 2014-2019 GAP was the introduction of a clear target – a 25% reduction in the number of people with avoidable blindness and visual impairment by the year 2019, compared with the 2010 baseline. The GAP provides ‘indicators’ to measure progress at the national level:

  1. The prevalence and causes of visual impairment
  2. The number of eye care personnel and
  3. Cataract Surgical Rate (CSR ) and Cataract Surgical Coverage (CSC )

The GAP recognises that provision of effective and accessible eye care services is key to reducing visual impairment including blindness, and that embedding eye health in the broader health system is necessary, and will reap efficiency and access gains. The emphasis on Universal Eye Health is also reflected in the principles cross-cutting the GAP which include: ensuring universal access and equity; compliance with human rights mechanisms; accounting for health and social needs at all stages of life; and promoting empowerment of people with blindness and visual impairment.

Global action plan poster

The vision of the Global Action Plan is a world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where those with unavoidable visual loss can achieve their full potential and where there is universal access to comprehensive eye care services


Further reading…

Universal Eye Health picture

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