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Commonwealth Governments commit to vision for all

A girl receives glasses as part of a school eye health programme in India, using Peek technology.

Credit: Peek Vision

Leading eye health organisations today applauded Commonwealth leaders for committing to take action towards achieving access to quality eye care for all Commonwealth citizens.

Blindness and poor eyesight are a growing problem which affects millions of people across every Commonwealth country. At their Heads of Government meeting in the United Kingdom (CHOGM), Commonwealth leaders therefore agreed for the first time to take action to ensure all citizens have access to quality eye care. Leaders also tasked Commonwealth Health Ministers with discussing eye health regularly and asked that progress achieved towards bringing vision to all citizens is reported at future CHOGMs.

In what is a landmark moment in the movement to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to quality eye care, organisations who have been working under the banner Vision for the Commonwealth, including Peek Vision, congratulated Commonwealth leaders for taking the lead in bringing quality eye care to all those who need it.

According to Dr Andrew Bastawrous, CEO of Peek Vision: “This is a landmark moment for millions of people across the Commonwealth. By recognising the importance of eye health, the Commonwealth is leading the world in bringing better vision and health to everybody.  But this is just the beginning – we now need to ensure that governments are supported to move towards universal eye health, so that in 2020 we can see real progress towards bringing vision to the Commonwealth and the world.”

In the days leading up to the meeting, several new major developments in eye health were announced:

  • Essilor, the world’s leading ophthalmic lens manufacturer, committed to providing 200 million people living below the poverty line with free ophthalmic lenses. as part of the Vision Catalyst Fund, a new mechanism for eye health funding being established by leading eye health organisations and banks.
  • The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development announced £20 million in new funding to protect the sight of people across the Commonwealth at risk of the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.
  • New research by PwC found that for every £1 invested in tackling avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth, £5 is returned.